Fr. Rick Thomas spent most of his life ministering to and helping youth wherever he was — from teaching high school in Dallas and New Orleans in his earlier years as a Jesuit, to working in the impoverished garbage dump and slums of Juarez, Mexico. He always had a heart for young people and tried to equip them to face and overcome the needs and challenges in their lives.
Our goal is to continue that work with children, making it a priority in our ministry to the poor. Families living in the grip of poverty have to contend with almost insurmountable obstacles as they struggle to survive — unemployment, violence from the drug wars, gangs recruiting their children, human trafficking, etc. There is so much heartbreak and tragedy in the lives of those we reach out to, and many despair of things ever getting better.
But hope always bubbles up in the hearts of the young, and it is a joy and delight to teach them about God. They know that life is tough but they are quick to catch onto the message of the Gospel, that Jesus is their Good Shepherd and loves them tremendously. There is nothing that He can’t help them with, no matter what hardships they face.
Confirmation retreat for teenagers
at the Food Bank.
The other day our Las Alitas center had flooded after a very heavy rain and mud was everywhere. Ramona, one of our catechists, had arrived first and needed help cleaning it up before the youth got their for their classes. “I was facing a mountain of mud and was wondering how we would ever get it cleared away in time. All of a sudden I was surrounded by little helpers, laughing and excited to sweep away the mess. They attacked the job with such joy and determination that we finished in plenty of time. It was a parable that God used to speak to me. What we adults might see as hopeless and impossible, the youth see as a challenge to conquer. We need to ask for that grace of hope and joy that flows so readily in them.”
Ramona with her little helpers clearing away the mud that piled up
in front of our center after a heavy rain.