From the middle to end of January, I spent time with priests from the Society of St. James the Apostle in Perú, where they currently have their center house and the focus of their mission. Visited Lima and Sicuani, which is a section of Peru in the southeast part of the country.
I spent the first several days as an outside guest at the annual meeting at the center house in Lima. I'm grateful to the Society for having me, and I'm including a few photos below:
Sicuani is a state of Peru that is in the process of becoming a diocese. A year or two ago, the bishop had come through the St. James Society to Boston to do a missionary appeal. I ended up accompanying him to his parish, so we got to know each other a bit. He invited me to come and visit Sicuani, and so this time in Lima, I took advantage of the proximity to go and visit. My goal was to familiarize myself a little bit with the area where the Society was focusing its attention, and also to see if I felt called to go in mission at some point.
With the bishop, a few retired priests from the Society, and a priest friend of the Society from Ecuador, we flew to Cusco to make the drive to Sicuani. We stopped at a house of nuns along the way to eat lunch.
We stayed overnight in the center house of the diocese, where the bishop lives. There are different construction projects going on, including a new chapel for the seminary, and they are raising sheep, guinea pigs, and rabbits.
We then traveled to three parishes in Sicuani. We stayed at the first for two nights, and then the next for one night. Finally, we visited the last parish in the day and from there traveled to Cusco to spend the night. We flew out the next morning from Cusco to Peru.
Along the way, we ate and rested together with the local priests, and we saw some buildings and churches and cathedrals. We attended a Sunday Mass with about 25 parishioners in the first stop. We really didn't have a chance to get into the parish life in any location, and we spent a lot of time traveling by pickup truck. So, I felt the trip didn't really give me a feel for the dynamic or the people there (or maybe it did!). But either way, I didn't feel a call to return. The bishop invited me to enter the seminary there, but I didn't sense anything in my heart that said "yes".
Here you can enjoy some of the photos of the beautiful mountains and landscapes of the sierra of Sicuani. As you'll be able to see, my poncho that was given to me by the community in Alao, Ecuador really came in handy. I also was able to buy a hat for Carlos from Alao, which he'll use to explore whether the women in the village can find a more affordable hat option than the one they currently have.