A Tarahumara Wellness Story
Click Here for a detailed report of the work of the Mission! (PDF)
Fr. Guillermo Estrada Jacques, SJ , Mission Director
Fr. Estrada is 45 years old, originally from Chihuahua. Before entering the Jesuit Order
he studied Industrial Engineering. He entered the Jesuits in 1991, and has an
undergraduate degree now in Social Philosophy and also in Religious Sciences. He
was ordained a priest in 2004, and from there went to Oaxaca to help kick off a very
impressive educational project for different groups of Indians in that State. This
project, largely due to the fine work of Guillermo, is now an Intercultural University
that attends to various indigenous groups in the region and in the southern part of
Mexico. He worked there as a teacher and Director.
Guillermo is a member of the Higher Education Council for the Mexican Province of
Jesuits and has collaborated with a research project for Latin America related to
higher education for Latin America, the Caribbean, IESALC and the UNESCO.
He recently finished his Tertianship in Habana, Cuba, as the final step in his formation
process as a Jesuit.
Fr. Guillermo Estrada will be working closely with Fr. David Ungerleider, S.J. Together, along with all of you, we will continue to give life to Fr. Verplamcken's dream and the commitment so many of you
have made over the years.
Fr. David Ungerleider
Fr. David Ungerleider has a been a Jesuit for the past 42 years. Although he was born in upstate New York, he has spent most of his adult life in Mexico and is a member of the MexicanProvince of the Society of Jesus. Besides his undergraduate degrees in philosophy and theology, he did a master’s degree in social anthropology and has worked in Mexico City, Tabasco, Puerto Rico, Torreon and now in Tijuana, where he is Assistant to the President of the Jesuit University there, where he has built a church, public library, gymnasium and Casa Manresa, the first retreat house in the city of Tijuana.
Several years ago, Fr. Verplancken asked Fr. David to assist him with his work in the Tarahumara. Since then he became active with the Mission, helping Fr. Verplancken up until his death in 2004. He then worked with Fr. Gilberto during the year of transition until the Jesuit Provincial appointed Fr. Pedro as the new full time director of the Mission in Creel. Fr. David has joined us these past seven years, and will continue to assist Fr. Lupe and the Mission for years to come.
John Brockamp, TCHF Oregon President
The Tarahumara Childrens Hospital Fund (TCHF) consists of four separate groups working together to support the Jesuit Tarahumara Mission in the Copper Canyon of Mexico. These groups are located in Detroit MI, New Orleans LA and Milwaukie OR. The mission headquarters is in Creel, Chihuaha, Mexico, with Fr. Jose Guadalupe Gasca, S.J. as director.
TCHF was first established in Detroit in 1966 as an independent, non-profit, tax deductible organization. Since that time chapters have also been created in Louisiana in 1983 and Oregon in 1998. Our purpose is to raise money in the United States to support vital services provided to the Tarahumara Indians in The Copper Canyon of Mexico. The 60,000 Tarahumara Indians who live in the Sierra Mountains maintain life styles much like their ancient ancestors. Many still live in caves, without electricity or running water. Their dire poverty results in malnutrition, parasites, and many intestinal diseases, which still claim 40% of their children before their fifth birthday. The mission Tarahumara, headed by a compassionate Jesuit priest, provides a range of services to the Tarahumara people. First, a medical clinic was created. Today, it has 75 beds, 2/3 for children. The mission also has been responsible for digging water wells which provide safe drinking water for many people. A boarding school has been developed which teaches Indian children about their own culture, the Spanish language, and teaches them skills to make a living as farmers, craftsmen, and teachers of their people. Obviously, the Tarahumara people do not have the means to pay for services themselves. The mission must rely on the support of foundations and individuals who recognize the importance of both preserving a cultural heritage and ensuring the healthy future of a tribal community. Father Pedro Velasco, the Mission's administrator, believes strongly in helping people help themselves. The Mission does not just provide charity today. It trains and uplifts the Indian people so that they can provide for themselves tomorrow. Please visit the rest of our site for more information about the Mission Tarahumara. Thank you for visiting us and we invite you to consider stopping in at our donation center.
John Brockamp, President, Tarahumara Children's Hospital Fund of Oregon