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The Blessings of Saint Juan Diego at Casa Juan Diego

Jennifer is a Catholic Worker at Casa Juan Diego, a recent graduate from the University of St. Thomas in Houston.

On December 9 th , the feast day of Saint Juan Diego, the staff of Casa Juan Diego was given numerous opportunities to see Christ in the poor and to grow in the virtues of patience and love.

At dawn, the day started with two of our battered women applying for protective orders at the DA’s office. Between the many pages of paperwork and the stories heard and shared among the others waiting to speak to the district attorney, our women did not return to Casa Juan Diego until 11:30 A.M. though they were first in line that morning.

With the winter and Christmas holidays quickly approaching, guests and donations have been filling up the entire house. On this particular day, we received a grand total of three new groups of guests, each bringing their own stories of pain and anguish.

Our first new guest arrived at 3 P.M. and needed a place to stay for one night before leaving for the consulate at 6 P.M. the next day. We checked her in and set up a room for her.

Once five o’clock approached, we thought the various surprises of the day had come to a conclusion. However, as we were eating dinner, the door bell rang to reveal a familiar couple who were in need. Maria and Jose, whom we had helped nearly a month ago, sought a room for the night to stay out of the cold. This couple from Honduras has crossed the border several times. During one of their earlier crossings, Maria, who was six months pregnant, was severely injured while switching trains. She now has brain damage, lost both of her hands, and her child was born prematurely. Without hands, Maria cannot eat or use the bathroom by herself. Jose takes care of her and makes sure she has everything she needs. Now, they were at our front door, begging for a warm place for the night.

But one more surprise was still in store for us. After Mass around 8 P.M., we found a mother with four children who had ridden a bus all the way from New Jersey, waiting on our front door step. We offered them the largest available room at the time – a room with two beds. They gladly accepted, we hurried to prepare the room, and they moved in. As we checked them in, we discovered, the mother was five months pregnant, and she had not been receiving prenatal care.

Throughout this challenging day, we did our best to see Christ in the poor. The blessings of St. Juan Diego have tested us, but through our faith in God’s love, we continue forward in our mission.
Houston Catholic Worker, Vol. XXX, No. 1, January-February 2010.