Changing lives through the love of christ

With the labor and prayers of many generous volunteers and donors, a 16 acre horse ranch with a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean, was renovated and transformed into a home for abandoned and abused adolescent boys. St. Innocent Orphanage officially opened its doors to its first boys in 1996.

St. Innocent Orphanage was meant to provide much more than the basic needs offered by other orphanages in Mexico. It was established to provide each boy with a sense of spiritual direction, a public education enhanced by private tutoring, an active program of athletics and extra-curricular activities, and a lasting sense of family and belonging fostered by unconditional love and support from all of the staff and volunteers within our ministry.

All of the boys in St. Innocent Orphanage are considered orphans because they were removed from their home by social services, they ran away from home due to an abusive situation or their parents are deceased or imprisoned. St. Innocent Orphanage is not a foster care facility, so when we accept one of these special boys into our home, we do so with the knowledge that they will be with us until they are grown men.
Because of the substantial number of orphaned children in Mexico, the inadequate state and capacity of municipal and city orphanages, and the need to prioritize available resources for the care of younger children, these adolescent and teenage boys become marginalized and are left to care for themselves on the streets. If not for the existence of St. Innocent Orphanage, these boys would eventually be drawn into a violent life of drug trafficking, prostitution and other criminal activity.

A healthy and vibrant spiritual life is vital for the therapeutic and developmental needs of our boys, and is led by the Orthodox priest on staff, who lives on the orphanage property. The teachings and practices of Orthodoxy are taught and experienced daily as our boys enjoy a rich Sacramental Life. Each morning the boys begin their day with prayers, and every Sunday they participate in Divine Liturgy. We are proud that many of our boys serve in the altar, while others serve as chanters.
We seek to integrate the Orthodox faith into most aspects of the boys’ daily lives, and provide them with many examples to live out their Orthodox faith by interacting with and learning from others. In addition, as home building volunteers and clergy come to visit St. Innocent Orphanage throughout the year, our boys are blessed to witness and share so many great examples of Orthodox Christianity.

A strong academic program is our top priority at St. Innocent Orphanage. Because many of our boys come into the orphanage severely behind in school or having no education at all, we work very hard to help them catch up with their grade-level peers. Each day, ,many hours are spent helping our boys with their homework and re-teaching the day’s lessons. Our highly-trained educational staff prioritize not only homework completion, but subject comprehension, supplemental lessons and practical application projects.  

Since the average education level completed in northern Mexico is 8th grade, we push our boys to strive for at least a high school diploma and even a college degree, if they are able and willing. A sound education will empower each boy to become a responsible, productive, self-sufficient man, able to support his own family and make a significant contribution to society. While education is no doubt a struggle for many of our boys, there is nothing they love more than going to school. All of our boys attend public schools in the communities surrounding the orphanage.

When our boys first enter our program, there are many firsts for them - a first Christmas present, first birthday party, first home where there is no fear of abuse, first uninterrupted school attendance, first time a warm meal was a sure thing, first time that love and reason would be their guide. These many firsts add up to the healing and building up of their souls.

Like any family, we do a plethora of extra-curricular activities to encourage healthy behavior and emotional stability. Our many activities include: climbing, camping, cooking, holiday celebrations, soccer games, movie time, service projects and cultural outings. These activities allow the boys to enjoy time with their brothers, challenge themselves by trying new things and enhance their understanding of life outside of the orphanage.

The photos below offer a glimpse of the many activities that our boys engage in throughout the year. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How many boys do you have?

Currently, we have 22 boys in our program. We’re working to expand our facilities so that we can eventually care for up to 30 boys or more at a time.

Where do the boys come from?

The boys are brought to the orphanage through the Mexican Social Services program. All of the boys who come to live at the orphanage are truly orphaned, which means that they have been completely abandoned by their family without possibility of reunion.

What are the ages of the boys?

The ages of our boys can range between 10 and 22 years old.

How long will they live with you?

Because of the unique difficulties created by the abuse in the boys’ pasts, we do not use age as a determining factor for how long they can stay with us. As long as one of our boys is enrolled in an educational program, including college, and functioning well within the guidelines of our program, we will continue to care for him.

Do they go to school?

Yes. The boys attend public schools in our local area.

Do you provide additional educational services?

Yes. We have a very comprehensive educational support system at the orphanage which includes a classroom with computers, a library, tutors, and psychological assistance. We do not run our own school, however, because it is important for the boys’ social development that they interact with others away from the orphanage in an educational setting.

Do the boys learn English?

The boys are encouraged, but not forced, to learn English, but we do recognize the incredible value of being bilingual in a border city. The boys study English in school, just as we in the U.S. might study Spanish or French. Other options are available for those who desire to learn more, e.g. computer software, workbooks, volunteer English tutors, etc.

How many people are on the orphanage staff?

The orphanage staff is approximately 19 people. This includes supervisors, support staff, educators and counselors who care for the daily needs of the boys.

Can I come to volunteer at the orphanage?

While we welcome others to support our Home Building program and to support small projects on the orphanage property, we refrain from allowing visitors direct involvement in our orphanage program. This is necessary to provide a stable, loving and healthy environment for our boys which is so important for their natural development. There are also several logistics, staffing and training challenges that make volunteering at the orphanage very difficult.