LIMA, Peru — Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani visited Our Lady of Lourdes Parish here over the summer, encouraging people to build a larger church, pray the rosary, and imitate Mary’s service. This was only the third time in almost 30 years that the archbishop of Lima visited the parish, and the first for Cardinal Cipriani, said Christopher Dunn, OFM, pastor.
The cardinal decided to visit the Mateo Pumacahua neighborhood, because he wanted to establish a closer relationship with the parishes in the archdiocese, said Episcopal Vicar Fr. Jaime Calvo, when he announced the visit last December.
The Our Lady of Lourdes community worked for eight months to spruce up the church for the visit, according to Christopher. And despite some last-minute challenging occurrences for Christopher, including a minor rear-end car accident and a major computer crash, the Aug. 10 to 17 visit was a good one.
The visit included Fr. Calvo’s meeting with parish lay leaders, holding a healing service, and the cardinal’s presiding at Sunday Mass, which was attended by more than 1,000 people.
“The pastoral visitation required a lot of coordination and effort from the people and groups,” said Chris. “It was good to see the communion and unity produced by the archbishop’s visit. All the parish groups worked to prepare the parish buildings and the liturgical celebrations.”
Celebrating a Growing Parish
Christopher also said it was heartwarming to recall the church’s early roots and to see how far the parish has come today. “I was also impressed as I remembered the state of the parish in the ’80s and ’90s, and to see how it has grown in numbers. It is just tremendous to see the presence of permanent faith groups and communities in the parish now, and to see how they can organize themselves and show their faith.”
Robert Menard, OFM, from St. Francis Church in Triangle, Va., a Lourdes’ sister parish, happened to be in Lima for the same week, and could share in some festivities.
The visit began with a Mass celebrated by Fr. Calvo. After Mass, the Episcopal vicar met with parish groups and communities. Given five minutes each to present, the groups explained their special charisma and activities. Representatives from the Order of Secular Franciscans, Franciscan Youth, Franciscan Children, charismatic groups, rosary group, Juan XXIII Retreat Program, Our Lord of the Miracles Fraternity, and the Neocatecumenate Way spoke. Parish catechists and visitors to the sick also presented.
Cardinal Celebrates Feast Day Mass
On the feast of the Assumption of Mary, the cardinal arrived for the closing Mass. The crowds were so large that police closed off traffic in front of the church. As he walked from the car to the church, the cardinal was received by music from the public school band and fireworks.
After a reception at the door and prayers at the mini-chapel before the tabernacle, Mass began. The principal celebrant was the cardinal, who was accompanied by concelebrants Fr. Calvo; Paul Breslin, OFM, mission superior; Fr. Genaro Racchumi, parish vicar; Fr. Raul Chau, the cardinal’s secretary; and Christopher. The cardinal brought about 10 seminarians as altar servers.
“More than 1,000 people attended Mass,” said Christopher. “Folks were standing outside in the street. In his homily, the cardinal encouraged the people to build a new and larger church, pray the rosary, and imitate Mary’s service.”
At the end of Mass, the parish presented the cardinal with a base relief wood carving of Saint Francis of Assisi. After the final song, people were dancing in the streets and enjoying more fireworks. After Mass, a reception for the cardinal and seminarians, hosted by Paul, was held in the friary.
—Fr. Christopher is pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Lima. He provided the photos for this story.