Alumnus Prepares for Home-Building Teams in Tijuana

Deborah Belonick

“Home sweet home.” “There’s no place like home.” “Home is where the heart is.”

Father Nicholas Andruchow, harvesting vegetables with boys from St. Innocent Orphanage, Tijuana, Mexico (photo: Project Mexico & St. Innocent Orphanage)Father Nicholas Andruchow, harvesting vegetables with boys from St. Innocent Orphanage, Tijuana, Mexico (photo: Project Mexico & St. Innocent Orphanage)These familiar phrases have been ingrained in American culture and society—and have been particularly meaningful for our Alumnus Priest Nicholas Andruchow, (M.Div. ’02), as he executes his duties as Chaplain and Associate Director of Project Mexico and St. Innocent Orphanage.

Since 1988 Project Mexico & St. Innocent Orphanage has been building secure, safe and weather-tight homes for some of the most impoverished families in northern Mexico. Built strictly by volunteer labor, these homes provide families with economic security and hope for a brighter future.

Our alumnus, Fr. Nicholas Andruchow, is one of the leaders who oversees the teams for these home-building projects.  His main responsibility is to help the volunteers contextualize Orthodoxy and make their faith real through almsgiving.  He has lived with his family in Tijuana for over seven years and this summer more than 600 volunteers are scheduled to build 26 homes starting in May and ending in August.

“To date,” noted Fr. Nicholas, “we have hosted well over 13,000 missionaries on our 16-acre ranch, and built 302 homes in total.

“The reason? The cost of land in Mexico ranges from $15,000 to $25,000 (USD) for a 200–300 meter parcel of land, and most families cannot afford to build once they save enough just to purchase land,” he continued.

“As you drive through the impoverished communities around Tijuana, you will see homes made of old garage doors, wooden pallets, tarps, tires or other materials that were, ironically enough, likely discarded from homes within the United States,” Fr. Nicholas further explained. “Our ministry is to make sure we provide a decent dwelling, with four walls, a roof, and a stucco exterior to keep families comfortable and safe in this climate and environment.”

“I receive immense joy—and so do our volunteers—when a new home is raised up, because an entire family is ‘raised up’ with it,” he remarked, “and during this Bright Season, I find great satisfaction in knowing we are acting as the hands, head, and feet of our Savior as we offer shelter to the poor.”

Learn more about home-building teams at Project Mexico and St. Innocent Orphanage.

Father Nicholas is one of the contributing authors to our latest Annual Report; read his story, and stories by our other impressive alumni!