OCMC “S.A.M.P.” program reaches St. Innocent Orphanage and Project Mexico

Recently the Orthodox Christian Mission Center’s SAMP (Support A Mission Priest) program began assisting Fr. Pedro Medina as he ministers to the St. Innocent Orphanage and to the surrounding community in Tijuana, Mexico. “An answer to prayer,” is how Margaret Yova of St. Innocent Orphanage describes Fr. Pedro, “he is great with the boys… he listens and guides them.” For years the boys at St. Innocent Orphanage only had a priest come once in a while to the orphanage. Fr. Pedro, has been assigned to the Orphanage by His Eminence Metropolitan Chedraoui (Ecumenical Patriarchate), and is making a difference in the lives of many.

The Orthodox Christian Mission Center, through its SAMP program now gives assistance to 240 Orthodox priests in 15 countries around the world. In situations where communities are not able to support a priest, SAMP offers an answer by offering a monthly financial contribution so that the priest can immerse himself fully in the ministry for which he has been ordained.

St. Innocent Orphanage focuses on orphaned and abused teenage boys in Tijuana—a city of over 2,000,000 people. According to DIF (the Mexican Department of Family Development), “Approximately 50,000 minors enter Tijuana each year. The lack of guidance, or absence of family in these children’s lives, leads them into robbery, gangs, vandalism, use of toxic substances, alcoholism, etc.” Many of these boys grow up in a vicious circle of poverty which leads to crime. Some are lucky and escape this circle because they enter into the gates of the St. Innocent Orthodox Orphanage and are given a second chance. While at St. Innocent the boys go to school, learn a vocation and are surrounded by people who care for and love them. Now they are also benefiting from the spiritual direction and guidance being offered to them from Fr. Pedro.

As a young man attending graduate studies at the University of Valle de Atemajac, in Guadalajara, Jose Pedro Medina met Archimandrite Makarios, an Orthodox monk who was serving in a community. Jose remembered having seen the Ecumenical Patriarch, DIMITRIOS, on television some time ago, and he began to intently research the Orthodox Church. Having found the purest tradition, he had no doubts as he embraced the Orthodox Church. Archimandrite Makarios guided his study of Orthodoxy, and in December 1996 Jose joined the Orthodox monastic community of the Nativity of the Lord. Two years later he was ordained to the diaconate and in another two years he was ordained to the priesthood at the parish of St. George in Mexico City, by Metropolitan Antonio of the Patriarchate of Antioch, Archbishop of Mexico, Central America, the Islands of the Caribbean.

There is a great interest in the Orthodox Church in Northern Mexico and Fr. Pedro works with adult catechumens from the Tijuana and Rosarito area along with his work at the orphanage. Since his arrival he has chrismated several adults and baptized many children. He has been guiding the liturgical and spiritual life of the orphanage, including guiding the boys and working with the staff to help them attend to the boys’ spiritual life. Fr. Pedro is also helping to develop the Independent Living Skills program for the older boys.

The Orthodox Christian Mission Center, St. Innocent Orphanage and Project Mexico are all inter-Orthodox ministries that function with the blessing of SCOBA (Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas). For more information about the Orthodox Christian Mission Center and their efforts, log onto their website at www.ocmc.org. For more information about the St. Innocent Orphanage and Project Mexico, log onto their website at www.projectmexico.org