In 1964 Fr Rich Thomas was appointed to El Paso in Texas. Around 1969/1970 he was profoundly touched by God and started charismatic prayer meetings in the parish. During one prayer meeting in 1972 they read the passage in Luke 14:12-14 which says, When you give a lunch or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relations or rich neighbours, in case they invite you back and so repay you.
Now when you have a party, invite the poor for they have no means to repay you and so you will be repaid when the upright rise again. The prayer meeting decided that on Christmas day that year, 1972, they would give a Christmas lunch to the poor who lived and worked in the dump in Juarez, which was just across the border in Mexico. The poor people in the dump used to separate the rubbish into various types, cans, bottles, cardboard etc and then sell it to a co-op which would in turn sell it on. They lived in the dump and worked 7 days a week for $5.
The prayer group had prepared food for 125 people on Christmas Day. When they got to the dump Fr Rich and the group discovered that they had two labour unions . One union could not go into the others area. Eventually Fr Rich got them to come to one area for the food. Three hundred and fifty people turned up so Fr Rich explained that there was not enough food for everyone but they would share what they had. All 350 had enough food, the dump people took some food home and then came back to take more home, they returned and took more home again. There was still lots of food left over, so much that Fr Rich and the prayer group took the leftover food to three orphanages.
It is not the only time a miracle happened in the dump in Juarez, that miracle of multiplication of food was repeated there many times, e.g. on another occasion when they didn't have enough cartons of milk for everyone when they came to the end of handing out cartons, everyone had a carton of milk. After the miracle on Christmas Day 1972 a beautiful Christian community grew up in the dump and many wonderful events have taken place since then.