A new church home
PERU – A couple of years ago a group of young people, associated with the Oblates, came to our parish, Christ the King, to carry out a mission in a most forlorn area where you will not find a blade of grass.
In charge of this young group was Father Beto, now the general councillor of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Thousands of souls live in this desert area, and there was no presence of the Church. The huge and flat land was made from the run-off from the Andes foothills … rocks, sand and dust. So, the young missionaries built a small chapel made from reed matter with plastic sheeting for the roof. A kind neighbor lent concrete bricks for the benches and the altar.
The young missionaries visited the people of the region, and established times in the chapel offering themes that interested the people. There were sessions for children, for young people and for the adults. The young missionaries stayed for two weeks and the parish helped out with food and places to sleep.
A year passed and a new priest came to carry on the work, along with young missionaries. Once the young groups finished their apostolate works, they returned to their studies. Our parish then sent adults to continue the work in ongoing evangelization and each Sunday one of our lay members went to this new community to teach and to give out Holy Communion. Mass was celebrated on the first Sunday of each month.
About four months ago, Fr. Nick, our parish priest, Fr. Leonard and I visited the area looking for the best place to build a chapel. After studying the region, we returned to where the young missionaries started.
It was the ideal place for a chapel, and the community was overjoyed with the news.
Along with my faithful workers Marcos, Walter and Paulino, we marked the chapel area with white lime, 8 metres wide by 20 metres long. We decided to put three layers of ornamental bricks on the walls because these bricks have holes that allow for air circulation.
This community is materially poor, but willingly rich. We asked them to look for help from people of means, and they were able to get donations for two front windows and another for a huge door from a man who is a candidate for mayor.
Someone donated the paint for the chapel, another person who owns a huge gravel pit donated all the material needed for the base, including rocks, sand, gravel and crushed stone. She also donated the table for the altar.
On March 4, Fr. Nick blessed the chapel, called St. Theresa of the Divine Child Jesus, and thanked all those who made it possible. This, of course, includes the Canadians and a few people from the United States and Ireland.
The mass was packed. The young parish choir had the whole community singing. And it was all recorded by television and journalists.
Today, there is a real presence of the Church in a bleak area, thanks in part to the young group of missionaries who started it all and were also in attendance to celebrate this beautiful day.