Where faith and medicine meet

Crosses create warm atmosphere at doctor’s office  

By MARY ANN ESCAMILLA
The Valley Catholic

McALLEN – Doctor Jorge Garcia’s chiropractic practice has been a fixture in McAllen, Texas for more than 25 years.

And when someone enters his office, it is easy to see why it is filled with patients and happy staff. Warmth from the southwestern design, which echoes the beauty and respite of New Mexico, envelop the patients as soon as they enter the office. The waiting room makes it evident that Dr. Garcia sees a wide range of patients from student athletes to visiting winter Texans.

Along with a collection of highly satisfied patients, he has also managed to grow an amazing ensemble of crosses in his office located on North 23rd. According to receptionist Karla Dominguez, who has worked for the doctor for many years, Dr. Garcia first started his collection with one large cross he purchased himself, intending to build around it with crosses he would eventually purchase.

This, however, is not what happened. But to understand the importance of the collection, one must understand that Dr. Garcia’s fascination with the religious symbol started with a long-ago trip he took to New Mexico. During his time there, he noticed many people in that area had similar accumulations. He wanted to add to his office the calmness he felt in the region for both his love of that area and as an expression of his own spiritual belief. Dr. Garcia, a parishioner at Our Lady of Sorrows in McAllen, shares the importance of his faith to his vocation when asked about his healing philosophy.

Dr. Garcia says that as a chiropractor, his relationship with patients is literally hands-on as the practice involves him actually touching the patient in the areas they hurt. This close bond with his patients is at the core of chiropracty, which is all about bringing balance back to people’s lives by dealing with the needs of a vital triad – the physical, emotional and spiritual.

The staff also recognizes the importance of this philosophy. Dr. Garcia’s massage therapist, Oscar Escobedo, states that it is a must that they recognize that they are treating people and not just the pain or the illness. This is vital to understand because humans enter the practice with different sorts of stresses which manifest as burdens in their lives. The stresses are both physical and emotional. As physical stresses come from trauma, emotional stresses come from a wide range of issues, such as a death in the family or difficulties in relationships.

Like the doctor, Escobedo, who worships at St. Joseph the Worker in McAllen, believes that healing comes from touch, but also includes smell and sight as senses to consider when helping a patient. The image of the crosses, he feels, bring peace to patients who come in to the office immersed in their own plight. Between patients, Escobedo practices his faith by reading his Bible along with books about the mechanics of the body.

He said that he wishes to take in the good energy from the Bible and give it back to the patients he treats daily. Escobedo is studying the Gospel According to John for a Bible Study Fellowship.

Perhaps it is because Dr. Garcia’s patients feel his commitment to his faith that they are eager to make him gifts of crosses as an expression of appreciation and community.

Escobedo mentioned one new patient who saw the collection and made sure to bring a new cross to him as a show of faith that she would get better from her treatments. Dr. Garcia counts well over 250 crosses in his collection by both new and long-time patients. And just like each patient, every cross has its own unique story. Some come from patients’ personal collections while others have been handmade especially for him. The most unusual crosses include a repurposing of natural elements.

While all the gift crosses have made distinctive journeys to him, one instance still moves him when he talks about it 15 years later. He said that one day a long-time patient came to him with two crosses. She explained that they were the ones placed on each of her parents’ coffins at the time of their funerals. Because she was now alone and wanted to keep them in a place where they would be appreciated and cherished, she gave them to him.

Dr. Garcia said that the honor of that gift and that conversation still gives him chills and goes beyond the goal of his original plans for his office décor. Because of many stories of appreciation like this, the collection has taken a on a significance that he himself never imagined it would when he selected the original cross at South Padre Island so many years ago. 

Dr. Garcia’s office is located at 2921 N. 23rd in McAllen.

The Valley Catholic
700 N. Virgen de San Juan Blvd.
San Juan, TX 78589

Phone: (956) 781-5323
Fax: (956) 784-5082
Publisher: Bishop Daniel E. Flores
Editor: Brenda Nettles Riojas
editor@cdob.org