HEARTS OF LOVE AND MERCY
In a quiet residential area in Plano, there it lies a house no different from the rest of the neighborhood. Only its occupants are a little different than the families that surround them. One director, three housemothers, and more than 50 helpers run this house by tending pregnant women in need.
The story goes back to 2003 in Mexico City, when Miriam, a psychologist, and José Manuel Tejeda, an architect, founded Mater Filius and opened the first house for pregnant women in need. This act of philanthropy was in response to a revelation Miriam had received after a near-death experience in February of 2002. While in the hospital for treatment of a newly diagnosed neurologic condition, Miriam experienced a cardiac arrest, and doctors began trying to resuscitate her. During those 4 minutes and 38 seconds of clinical death, she experienced a life-altering interaction with Mary, the mother of our Lord Jesus. Mary tasked her with the mission of providing a home of love and mercy for pregnant women in need that was to be called Mater Filius, Latin for “Mother-Child.” The doctors resuscitated her, but she remained in critical condition for 47 days while her family and friends held a vigil at her bedside.
Since the founding of the first Mater Filius house, this maternity home’s model has expanded throughout Mexico, the United States, and Latin America.
(You can listen to Miriam Tejeda’s testimony with subtitles in English on YouTube).
The Mater Filius house in the quiet residential area of east Plano opened its doors to serve the North Texas community on June 25, 2016.
While living in Mexico City, Marthalicia Burkle worked closely with Miriam at the original Mater Filius home. In 2006, due to a job relocation, her husband Javier Burkle moved the family to the United States with their two high school sons. Marthalicia hoped that on their return to Mexico, she would open and direct a new Mater Filius house. But after nine years in the United States, the family finally decided to settle permanently in Plano, Texas.
Following her pro-life vocation, Marthalicia occupied her time attending a course with Human Life International. During this time, she learned about an expectant mother with triplets, who was doubtful about her pregnancy and suffering from depression. Without hesitation, she went to see the mother and visited daily to provide support during this time of hardship. The young mother gave birth to two little girls and one little boy, but sadly one of the baby girls passed away three days after delivery.
This encounter turned into a beautiful friendship and allowed Marthalicia to see firsthand the lack of support that existed for pregnant women in crisis. Furthermore, the opening of Mater Filius Nebraska in January 2014 had confirmed that this model could work in the United States. All this ascertained the need for a Mater Filius house in this area.
Determined to follow the call of the Sweet Love of Mary, Marthalicia decided to open a home in North Texas in the summer of 2014. Opening a Mater Filius home could not be a one-person project, it required a married couple as its founders. Javier never objected to her volunteering, supporting pro-life, or giving her time to help the indigent, but opening a maternity home in a foreign country was a completely different story. He knew there would be challenges, and indeed there were many. It wasn’t until a close friend was willing to donate his property and income to make this project possible that he was convinced. This act of generosity helped him understand that this was not ‘their’ project. It was the Blessed Virgin Mary’s project, and She was touching hearts around them.
One after another, the challenges turned into accomplishments. Mater Filius Mexico gave the Burkles the go-ahead to establish a house in North Texas. Three couples, Veronica and Luis Boy, Ellen and Martin Mengelle, and Liliana and Fernando Salazar, joined their lead and formed the necessary Board of Directors.
In early 2015, the Board approached then Auxiliary Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas, the Most Reverend John Douglas Deshotel, and discussed their plan for a maternity home to help pregnant women in need. He graciously welcomed the project. On June 30, 2015, Mater Filius of Dallas, Inc. was designated as a public non-profit and granted tax-exempt status. It was now listed as a Non-Parish Based Organization (NPBO) and could function within the Catholic community in compliance with the Diocese of Dallas.
The Board started working right away, but a first attempt to open the house in a neighborhood in Dallas could not become a reality. It was a setback; thus, the founders persevered, and Javier and Marthalicia found a way to purchase the house in Plano. After six long months of acquisition, renovation, training of volunteers, and finally furnishing the home, Fr. Eduardo González presided over a Community Mass on June 25, 2016, and dedicated the new Mater Filius of Dallas home to pregnant mothers in need and their unborn babies.
On January 8, 2017, the home celebrated the birth of its first newborn. The Sweet Love of Mary, Miriam, and Marthalicia joined hearts as they celebrated the blessing of saying YES to God’s requests of charity, mercy, and service.
First and foremost, all Mater Filius organizations are for pregnant women in-need, pro-life, base in pure charity, mercy, and service. We are a volunteer-led organization formed by members that responded to Our Blessed Mother’s call and said YES just like She said Yes.
We wear a blessed teal tilma as a symbol of humility and a cover while helping the mothers and babies living at the house. The tilma resembles the outer garment or cloak worn by indigenous Indians in Mexico, like the one worn by native Juan Diego, later canonized Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, which has the impression of Our Lady of Guadalupe.