Oblate Partnership Visits Baja Mission in Tijuana

Tijuana, Mexico

By Artie Pingolt, president, Missionary Oblate Partnership, Photos by Mike Viola

Mission Superior/Pastor, Fr. Jesse Esqueda, OMI, First Communicants before Mass

The Missionary Oblate Partnership sponsored a “fieldtrip” to the new Oblate mission in Tijuana on May 3 & 4.

Prior to embarking on a busy day, the visitors, including Partnership President Artie Pingolt (center right in blue shirt) and Oblate Fathers David Uribe and Louis Studer, (second from end on right, and at end on right respectively) pose for a picture.

Participants included three US Oblates- Fathers Lou Studer, David Uribe and Antonio Ponce- as well as an assortment of Partners, Oblate Associates, Oblate employees and a “twinning” partner rep from the Basilica in Minneapolis.  The group was also joined by two sisters from the Hilton Fund For Sisters, located in Los Angeles. 

The group met in San Diego on late Friday afternoon, May 3, and were joined by Tijuana mission superior, Fr. Jesse Esqueda, OMI, who gave the group an overview of the mission and the schedule for the following day.

Fr. Jesse Esqueda, OMI, (in black) welcomes the visitors

Early on Saturday, May 4, the group boarded a bus for 15 passengers, driven by the intrepid Fr. Antonio Ponce.  Following years of experience- the OMI Mission in Tijuana was founded in the 1980s– the Oblates make arrangements at the Tijuana border crossing that keeps the trip from San Diego to the mission at around 1.5 hours.  Not bad for the busiest border crossing in the world!

Fr. Jesse (R) leads the group on a walking tour of the area

Arriving at 9am, not a minute is wasted for a day that includes the following:

  1. Meeting with group of mission seniors for greetings and morning stretches
  2. Breakfast and presentations by several different service groups at the mission
  3. Helping create “food bags” to be delivered to shut-ins
  4. Driving tour of mission grounds to “outstation” chapels
  5. Delivering food bags to private homes
  6. Special carne asada lunch with volunteer group from Los Angeles
  7. Meeting with and enjoying dance performances of youth group
  8. Classroom time with children who have special needs
  9. Scholarship presentations to select students
  10. Prayer service and eucharistic adoration with youth group
Visitors and parishioners load the bags with food and other household essentials
Local Oblate youth prepare the finished bags for delivery
Visitors and Oblate Youth Group deliver bags to shut ins
Visiting the Oblate’s school for special needs children
Awarding of scholarships to outstanding students
Group dance performance by the Oblate Youth
Adoration after prayer service

The group departed for San Diego on schedule, at 5pm.  Thanks to a neat trick of Fr; Jesse sending a bus ahead of us to essentially wait in line while we were still at the mission, we were in line only a brief time, to have our passports reviewed while the Mexican customs official peered into the van at each of us after announcing our names.

We landed back at our hotel in San Diego before 7pm, exhausted but very grateful and enriched.  A few of the group met for a light supper and debrief, while others were just too tired.


  1. The Oblate mission in Tijuana must be visited to truly be appreciated and understood.
  2. The people of the mission are, in a word, beautiful.  Go see for yourself!
  3. As Partner Kevin Henseler suggested, “Fr. Jesse must be gifted with the ability to bilocate- it seems like he manages to be in two places at the same time!”
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Three girls excited for their First Communion