The pastor of the Province’s parish in Lima provides an update on recent activities, the first of several reports from Christopher Dunn, OFM.
LIMA, Peru — Our Lady of Lourdes Parish here in the Mateo Pumacahua neighborhood of the Chorillos district of Lima held its annual fund-raising festival last month, raising more than $2,500.
The money will be used to repair the church’s roof, create a grotto for the church’s façade and for other construction projects. The all-day event on Feb. 7 included music, dancing, soccer, volleyball, food and games.
After several stumbling blocks, enhancement of the exterior of the church has recently been completed.
In December 2008, the parish submitted a project to the local municipal government for new sidewalks, curbs and pavement for the street along the side of the parish’s property as well as new sidewalks and curbs along the front of the church. Parishioners demolished the wall surrounding the exterior of the entranceway.
The project was approved by the municipal government and work began in October 2009. Front-end loaders dug up all the sidewalk and curb that had originally been paid for by the parish more than 20 years prior.
Three weeks into the project — after demolishing the church’s entranceway, sidewalk and curbing — the contractor advised the parish that the budget approved by the municipal government did not include money for placing new sidewalks and curbs in front of the church. The person that created the budget proposal had included money only for the street alongside the church. The budget for the front of the church and entranceway only included demolition costs.
After many days of negotiations with the contractor, the parish and the municipal government, the municipal government refused to recognize any additional costs and was going to leave the main entranceway into the church destroyed when the project ended just before Christmas 2009. The contractor made a small donation to the parish, but the parish ended up covering the cost of the budget error.
The parish sought permission to extend the sidewalk area out onto what would have been part of the lawn area to create a large patio entranceway with two green areas. The area is now covered with stone rather than cement, creating a beautiful patio entranceway. As more funds become available, a grotto with a mosaic image of Our Lady of Lourdes will be placed in the corner.
Confirmation and Christmas
In other parish news, 62 high school students and young adults made their confirmation in January. Recently-ordained Auxiliary Bishop Guillermo Abanto — making his first trip to the Archdiocese of Lima’s southern shanty town area — presided at the confirmation. In November and December, approximately 250 children made their first Communion at the main church and the chapel.
In December 2008, the parish council decided to begin to place more emphasis on celebrating the 12 days of Christmas and taking advantage of the time of evangelization. In Peru, the Christmas celebrations, “chocolatadas,” are held during December before Christmas and concentrate on hot chocolate parties and gifts for the children. This year the parish sponsored four Christmas programs through the 12-day Christmas season. The programs included traditional hot chocolate, fruit cake and gifts. To focus more on evangelization, all four programs included live nativity plays and two included a concert by a popular Catholic singer.
Just a few days after the festival, my mother, who is 81 years old, and my nephew visited Peru; they stayed from Feb. 12 to 19. It was my mother’s first time on a plane and first trip outside of the United States or Canada.
The summer season has been busy with visitors.
The auxiliary bishop was here for confirmation on January 31.
At the beginning of January, Joseph Hertel, OFM, director of St. Anthony’s Guild, the Province’s fund-raising partner organization, was in Peru for a week visiting our ministries.
Additionally, Fr. Fred Link, OFM, general visitor, was here for the week of Feb. 1 through 6. Once every six years, the General Minister appoints a friar to review each apostolate and each friar to prepare for the election of a new Provincial. So, it has been a very busy summer so far. The next main project is completing the year-end financial reports.
March marks the beginning of fall, and the parish is getting ready for a new year of activities. The school year runs from March through December. Our adult evangelization program, which runs for two months, will begin the week after Holy Week.
The photo above shows the annual fund-raising fair. The behind photo shows (left to right) Carlos Sarmiento-Diaz, OFM, Anthony Wilson, OFM, Michael Harlan, OFM, Fr. Fred and Christopher.
— Fr. Christopher, a native of Utica, N.Y., is pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Lima.