Hello from Lima!
I’ve been in Lima since arriving on Jan 13th. The first week was with the annual meeting of the St. James Society. This second week has given me the opportunity both to visit several parishes that the Society is helping to develop here in Lima, as well as catch up on writing and communicating and a little retreat time. It’s been good to be here.
The annual meeting is a 4-day affair that includes a speaker giving a series of talks related to the Society’s activities and mission, as well as business / logistical meetings, prayer time, and social time. A new member entered into the Society during a Mass in the week, and the week ends with a social dinner in which many friends of the Society are invited and singing and music abounds later on! I made a video from photos from the annual meeting, you can check it out here.
(This is an option built into Google Photos on Android. It's proven useful in the past for making simple videos with background music from photos and videos that you've taken. You can edit, add/remove photos and videos and their duration, and select from a large variety of background music or include your own.)
Part of the meeting was discussing my own involvement in the Society. It’s important to note that this involvement would not technically be Barriers To Bridges, which so far has been focused on Ecuador. Instead, the discussion was about my participation as a provisional, lay member. That aspect would include lay pastoral ministry in Peru. There is also an administrative aspect, which would be more as an employee of the Society, while back in Boston. It has those components because it allows there to be a feeling out on both sides of whether there might be a fit between me and the St. James Society. Historically, it has been for diocesan priests, although a few lay missionaries have at certain times sprouted up in collaboration. This step is viewed by me and them as a chance for me to continue as a lay missionary in South America with support, while for the Society the opportunity to test and feel out the role of lay people in their ministry.
It was agreed in the meeting with all the current members to go forward with this in a provisional way. The idea has been to try this for a year (starting last October in fact), and re-evaluate afterwards. This time in Lima has been a chance to review with the current members where and how there would be an opportunity for pastoral ministry in one or more of the parishes.
A few years ago, I had stopped by (albeit very briefly) all of the parishes in the mountains. This time, I was able to visit the 3 parishes in which the Society is involved in Lima. So, I’ve basically visited all of the active parishes now. It’s now a chance to come to agreement on a parish and timeframe to start. That’s where things currently stand.
Last weekend I spent in Ate, in a parish on the outskirts of Lima. I had a good experience there, as Fr. Loreto and Francis generously invited me to introduce myself at each of the Masses, which you can see in the photos here. It seems like it might be a good place to start. I also took photos of the area, including the sparse mountain area on the edges of the parish. It is a quickly growing parish, and very poor. And as you can see, it is - as is all of Lima really - in the middle of the desert.
One day during the week, I spent lunch and several hours in Villa El Salvador on the south side of Lima. The next day, a few of us went up to Torre Blanca, on the north side of Lima, to visit Fr. Dennis Parry and Our Lady of Guadalupe parish. We spent a few hours viewing the parish, including the new large church that is under construction. Here are a few photos.
He is currently the only priest there, and there's a lot to do with regard to the church construction. Plus, with a quickly changing and growing community, there's a big need for more pastoral ministry in the parish. It might be worthwhile to make a longer visit at another opportunity.
So, that's what has been happening. I'll be returning to Quito shortly to visit the Working Boys' Center. I'll send out another update when I can.
In the meantime, I’ll leave you with some amazing photos you’ll not want to miss! The internet is very poor here, so I can’t post them visually, only link them. Here are photos of the coast in Lima, at or near the center house where I've been staying. The sunsets are incredible, so you can sort through what you like. You might notice in the photos a large, lit-up cross across the bay. That's the morro solar (the snout plot of land), and I made a short trip (jogging, actually) there. There are great views of the city (the development as well as the poverty), a Marian shrine to Jesus, a few historical monuments, and a large statue of Christ, which is called Cristo Redentor del Pacifico, or Christ the Redeemer on the Pacific. It's a gift from Brazil, in reference to the famous, giant Cristo Redentor statue that stands over Rio de Janeiro, on the Atlantic.