Rev. John Fanestil and Friendship Park


Rev. John Fanestil celebrating communion at Friendship Park, before all access was blocked by Border Patrol.

For generations, Mexican-American families of San Diego/Tijuana divided by the international boundary have gathered on Sunday afternoons on both sides of the border fence at Friendship Park.

Dedicated in 1971 by then First-Lady Pat Nixon as a symbol of binational friendship, this California State Park overlooking the Pacific Ocean was both an appropriate and stunningly beautiful setting where grandmothers in Mexico could meet with sons, daughters and grandchildren living on the U.S. side of the border, to share a simple Sunday meal of homemade tamales, empanadas or pan dulce.

Construction of the border wall led the Department of Homeland Security to turn its focus on Friendship Park as a theatre of law enforcement operations, and it declared that passing simple foods through the fence was a customs violation. Rev. John Fanestil responded by joining these families each Sunday, breaking bread together by sharing Holy Communion with worshippers on both sides of the border fence, a symbol of binational solidarity and friendship in keeping with the park's original purpose. Since January of 2009, DHS has blocked all access to Friendship Park.

Local and state public officials, local community members and organizations now work for the restoration of this historic meeting place.