What is The Lord's Ranch by Chris
All Praise and Glory be to Our Sovereign King, Our Lord and God, Our Savior, Jesus Christ, who has healed, is healing and will continue to heal our family. As Karen, the kids and I are becoming united as a family again, we have been working through all of this in a bubble of sorts at this lovely cottage located where FMC runs their annual "Faith Camp". Sidebar tangent alert: To watch a video about FMC's annual Faith Camp in case you are interested for your kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews, please click on this link to watch a Faith Camp video .
So, we have felt moved by the Holy Spirit to take the next incremental step and to head out to serve at a place where our friend, Fr. Nathan O'Halloran, S.J. grew up. The place is called, The Lord's Ranch. What is the Lord's Ranch, well, it is a community of Catholic Christians founded by Fr. Rick Thomas, S.J. the year Karen and I were born. The ranch itself is located in Vado, New Mexico but they also serve the communities of El Paso, Texas and Juarez, Mexico. Our plan is to live and work alongside the community at The Lord's Ranch and take it a month at a time until we feel ready to head back to Louisiana and then Michigan to make final preparations in order to head out to a new foreign mission post in 2019.
I pulled the info below right from their website, https://thelordsranchcommunity.com/
In 1975 Father Thomas started The Lord’s Ranch east of Vado, New Mexico. Over the years the Ranch has provided recreation and rehabilitation to needy youth, housed hundreds of visitors from all over the world, run retreats for young and old, and is home to KJES International Shortwave Radio Station broadcasting to every continent.
The old Youth Center building at 515 S. Kansas was sold in 1997 when Father Thomas acquired a larger building he named Las Alas, at 501 E. Paisano and the weekly Wednesday night prayer meeting grew, expanding to include catechism classes for children, individual prayer counseling, and increased hours of confessions.
Father Rene Laurentin, a renowned theologian, wrote two books about Father Rick and the community entitled, “Miracles in El Paso?” (which is now out of print) and “Le Miracle Continue” (which was only published in French.)
A book, written by a Canadian journalist named Richard Dunstan, was published in 2009 called, “The Bible on the Border: How Father Rick Thomas and his friends learned to serve the poor of Mexico by taking God at His Word”.
Father Thomas was the recipient of numerous awards and honors in his lifetime, none of which he cared about or paid any attention to. The only award he was interested in was to hear the Lord say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…come and share your Master’s joy.” (Matt. 25:23) We believe he heard those words.
Father Richard M. Thomas, S.J. died on May 8, 2006 at the Lord’s Ranch in Vado, New Mexico. He was 78 years old.
Father Thomas leaves us a legacy of deep spiritual faith, a strong commitment to social justice and an unwavering obedience to God’s Word.
I have read and was deeply moved by the book, "Bible on the Border" about the work and life of Fr. Rick Thomas, S.J. There is a new biography on Fr. Thomas that just came out called, "A Poor Priest for the Poor" which I am excited to read. Here is a link to it on Amazon for those who may be interested: A Poor Priest for the Poor.
Rick Thomas usually wore cowboy boots and a big Texan hat. Living in El Paso, Texas, just across the border from Juarez, Mexico. And always colorful, he was known as an exceptional friend to the poor. When he died, Rick Thomas was buried in a homemade plywood coffin. A thousand people pressed into the church to say goodbye to a man who had lived love and spirituality. Father Rick Thomas, S.J. had been a Jesuit in the Roman Catholic Church.
Father Thomas still has insight for us about the world of divine interventions.
MINISTERING TO THE POOR
One of his significant places of ministry was the garbage dump for El Paso- Juarez. The sheer squalor of this sprawling pit of filth remains overwhelming. Poor Mexicans struggled to survive by living in the trash pit, having children here, and scratching out an existence in the midst of the debris. An untold number of the poverty-stricken live in cardboard shacks made from boxes tossed out in the trash. Fr. Rick regularly marched into the muck to hold religious services for them.
On the occasion of a visit to the United States, Sister Briege McKenna went with Fr. Rick to the dump. Sister McKenna was born in Ireland and entered the order of the Sisters of St. Clare where she became widely known for her ability to pray for the sick. With hesitancy, she walked into the worst squalor she had ever experienced. Sister Briege couldn’t see how any dignity of worship could be manifest in such filth.
To her shock, nearly a thousand people had already gathered when they arrived. The contrast was staggering. These people literally had nothing. Setting up an old table for his altar, the priest went to work.
An old woman walked up, carrying a bundle in her arms. When she unfolded the cloth they saw a little child completely burned from head to foot. The dirty child was filthy and screaming. As she was crossing the mountains, the woman had found the child smoldering and picked him up. She handed him to Fr. Rick.
Sister Briege and Fr. Rick stared at the child that was nearly skinless. Finally, the priest suggested that they place the child under the table during the Communion Service. The service began and the congregation of the poverty stricken prayed with fervor. The Sister could feel the reality of the Holy Spirit descending across the mass of people.
Sister Briege began to weep and wondered if her faith might not be as strong as theirs.
As the Mass ended, they realized the baby had long since stopped crying. The child had crawled out from under the table. Sister Briege gasped! The little boy was happily playing in the sand – totally healed.
The Sister hurried over to the woman and ask, “What happened to him?”
The old woman looked at her with skepticism in her eyes. “What you mean what happened? Didn’t Jesus come?”
While the poor received the Mass, the child received new skin.
Praise be Jesus Christ, now and forever!