Mother Teresa, the saint of the slums, made it her life’s mission to serve and minister to give “wholehearted free service to poorest of the poor”. Founded in the crushing poverty of India, her order, The Missionaries of Charity, are now located all over the world, in the most desperate and impoverished places.
Knowing this, many Americans would be shocked to know that Mother Teresa felt it imperative to found a mission in the United States, the richest and most powerful nation in the history of the world. When you imagine the Missionaries of Charity serving the poor, you couldn’t be blamed for picturing undeveloped places such as India, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Burkina Faso… but on par with the desperation and poverty of those places is Gallup, New Mexico.
In the 1980s, Mother Teresa visited the Western New Mexico city of Gallup, which has long struggled with homelessness and alcoholism, to start a shelter and soup kitchen where those who felt cast aside by society would be welcome.
The shelter she founded there, Casa San Martin, serves daily hot meals, provides showers, and has a room with beds for women, and another, larger room, with over 40 beds for men. One sign on the wall instructs visitors that no weapons, alcohol or drugs are permitted on the premises, on other walls are found hand-drawn signs on cardboard expressing various Catholic prayers. A large crucifix, flanked with the words “I Thirst”, completes the decorations in the dining hall.
The Diocese of Gallup, the poorest in the nation, helps to continue the legacy of Mother Teresa in New Mexico, but with meager funding, it is a constant struggle to keep up with the level of poverty and need.
In response, The Most Rev. James S. Wall, the Bishop of Gallup, and his diocese have launched an initiative called “A Cry In The Desert“. In an effort to provide people with opportunities for an encounter with the living Christ, and to help alleviate some of the intense sufferings, he is calling on Catholics, and all people of good will, to assist these “poorest of the poor” through emergency shelters, food banks, substance abuse prevention programs, thrift shops, prison ministry and a nursing facility.
It is nearly unfathomable that this level of poverty can exist in a place like the United States, but here, in your own backyard, people are crying out from the desert for your help… will you answer their cry? Will you continue the legacy of Mother Teresa? Even a small donation of just $10 goes a long way in helping the Diocese to serve the poor in Gallup.
To learn more about “A Cry In The Desert”, please watch this short documentary produced by the Diocese of Gallup and Directed by award-winning filmmaker Charles Kinnane.