Saturday, December 23, 2006

Children from San Francisco de la Cruz

Children from one of the newest missions in the Diocese gathered on Friday for their Christmas "chocolatada". This hot chocolate drink is the traditional festive drink at Christmas in Peru and is accompanied by "panetone", a light fruit cake.
The photo was taken on the land where the mission will be built and work begins with heavy earth movers in January. A two storey building will be put up with a clinic and children's centre on the bottom floor and the church and training workshops on the top. Because of the steep incline on which it will be built, access to both floors is from ground level.
The church is being planted by a team of mission workers from the Diocese, supervised by Fr Juan Bernardo Marentes, a Colombian mission priest from SAMS USA.

Baptism and First Communion in Cathedral

Twelve children and two adolescents were baptised in the Cathedral on December 8, most from St Matthew's Anglican School in San Juan de Lurigancho. Later in the service, 37 received their First Communion on what was a very special day.
Bus loads of children and parents came from the school to their Cathedral Church. Those who received their first Communion had been prepared by Fr Jorge throughout the year and had been looking forward to this day for a long time. After the Eucharist there was cake and refreshments in the hall before the children made the hour long journey back to their homes.
Later in the day the Bishop and several of the clergy went on to St Mary's Church, where again there were Baptisms and First Communions. December 8 is a traditional day for First Communions in Peru.

Friday, December 22, 2006

Changes to Church in Juliaca

The Mission Church in Juliaca is undergoing some radical changes. Converted from an old shop, a raised area for the sanctuary and four arched windows have been put in, an old pillar in the middle of the space has been removed, and a neighbouring room made into a sacristy with its own access.
There is still much to do - painting walls, sanding and polishing the floor, making pews and sanctuary furniture, but the congregation is beginning to see the vision become reality and are delighted about it.
The Bishop was present on Sunday evening (Dec 17) to celebrate the Eucharist having travelled through an electric storm and torrential rain in the mountains to get there. As the rain eased people eventually began to arrive at the church, and there was great excitement to see the changes.
St Mary Magdalene Mission is also the home to the local office of ECLOF (the Ecumenical Church Loan Fund), which is involved in a small loans programme with the Diocese. Every week 800 people pass through the offices and the mission is seeking ways of serving them with a child care project and a soup kitchen. Staff members of ECLOF were present at the Eucharist on Sunday and everyone is concerned to see that the church and this important ministry work effectively together.
As well as the church area, there are also five rooms on the second floor, an ample classroom, a kitchen and a multi-use building with two large rooms. In the next stage of development new bathrooms will also be installed.

The mission's single biggest need is to find a priest and mission workers. At present P. Juan Carlos Revilla and seminarians make the five hour journey each weekend to serve the people.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Preaching the Word of God

Sunday by Sunday, day by day, God's Word is proclaimed in the churches of our Diocese. It is one of the Bishop's primary tasks and he, together with his priests, deacons and lay ministers, sets out to open the Scriptures to his people. God's Word is part of our daily bread.

Our Diocese reads the Scriptures from cover to cover, following the lectionary - the plan which sets out our daily readings - which is found in the Prayer Book. Not only do we read the Bible in services, but also in prayer groups and Bible studies, and in our private devotions, and always with the aim of letting God speak to us, his people.

In studying Scripture one encounters Jesus! To read the Scriptures we need a quiet place and a quiet mind, so that we can direct our attention to this meeting with him. He speaks to us in Scriptures. St Ambrose said, To be ignorant of Scripture is to be ignorant of Jesus.

Almighty God, we thank you for the gift of your holy Word. May it be a lantern to our feet, a light to our paths, and a strength to our lives. Take us and use us to love and serve in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

[Photos of churches. Top: Church of St John the Evangelist, Pamplona Baja, Lima; Middle: Church of Christ the Redeemer, Arequipa; Bottom: Church of Jesus the Saviour, Villa El Salvador, Lima.]

Confirmations in Christ the Redeemer

Five young women were confirmed by the Bishop in the Church of Christ the Redeemer, Lima, on Sunday December 10.
They had been prepared by Lizbeth Varillas, the leader of Young People in the Diocese, and soon to qualify as a teacher.
The Bishop asked all the congregation to call in silence on God the Holy Spirit while he layed on hands and prayed for each of the candidates: Defend, O Lord, your servant Gimena with your heavenly grace that she may continue yours for ever, and daily increase in the Holy Spirit more and more until she comes to your everlasting kingdom. He then marked their foreheads with a cross in holy oil as a sign of the Spirit's anointing and a reminder of their baptism.

Ordinations in Lima

Two priests and two deacons were ordained in our Cathedral of the Good Shepherd on the Feast of Christ the King, November 26.
Allen Hill and Aurelio Rodriguez were ordained as priests, and Justo Maqque and Patricia Blanchard as deacons.
Bus loads of supporters came from several of our missions, as well as from our St Matthew's School. Pat was supported by her friend Helen from England as well as many from her church, among them the music group which provided sparkling Andean music in the liturgy; Justo by his wife Cornelia, his daughters and friends from Arequipa; Allen by his parents Jim and Harriet from the USA, as well as by his wife Rachel and boys James and John; and Aurelio was supported by his brother and sister from Huaral, as well as the Lady Mayoress from Villa Maria del Triunfo and a crowd of his people. But we all supported and prayed for each other and felt the marvellous presence of God. The sight of almost 30 seminarians entering the Cathedral in their white albs was like a sign of the future and God's promises being fulfilled, and I could imagine them in years to come carrying the Gospel message to different corners of this beautiful land.
Allen Hill is the Director of the Seminary and Aurelio Rodriguez is the mission priest in the St Mary the Virgin Mission. Pat Blanchard is the Deacon in Charge of the Jesus the Nazarene Mission, Lima, and Justo Maqque is the Assistant Deacon in St Luke's, Arequipa.

[Photo from left to right: Allen Hill, Rachel Hill, the Bishop, Marco Gomez, Aurelio Rodriguez, Anderson Sanchez and Justo Maqque. I don't know what happened to Pat in this photo, but she was there!]

Seminary Graduations in Arequipa

Seminarians Nestor, Zoila and Daniel received diplomas at a ceremony on December 16 in Christ the Redeemer, Arequipa.
Nestor and Zoila received Bishop's Certificate 2, and Zoila and Daniel Bishop's Certificates 1.
All three of the seminarians are deeply involved in ministry in Christ the Redeemer Parish and its 5 missions. Every Sunday they lead services, preach and take the Blessed Sacrament. One of the missions, St Mary Magdalene's in Juliaca, is a 5 hours bus journey from Arequipa. As well as Sunday services, they also help with Evening Prayer and pastoral work on week days.
The aim of the Seminary is to prepare men and women for lay and ordained ministry, giving them the best theological training we can, and ensuring that what they learn can be applied in practical mission and ministry. Strong emphasis is also placed on spirituality, worship and prayer.
All three of these seminarians will now be considered to become Licensed Lay Ministers, and, if they are called by God, for Holy Orders.
[In the photo, the seminarians are dressed in black cassocks, and from left to right are Nestor, Zoila and Daniel; also in the photo are the Revs. Juan Carlos Revilla, Ron Robertson, Allen Hill and Justo Maqque, and the Bishop and seminarian Danjer]

Canon David Roseberry in Peru

Canon David Roseberry, from Christ Church, Plano, was in Peru last week. As a licensed priest of the Diocese, he was welcomed to the Cathedral by the Dean. After two days of retreat in Chaclacayo, he travelled to Arequipa for the graduation ceremony of three seminarians before returning to Texas.
He is seen in the photo playing the guitar with the music group at the Eucharist in Christ the Redeemer, Arequipa. Vicki Robertson, a missionary from Fr David's parish, is also seen in the picture. Vicki's husband, Fr Ron, is the Rector of the Seminary in Arequipa and Regional Dean of Southern Peru.
Christ Church, Plano, is one of the Diocese's closest friends and many members of the congregation have come to Peru in mission teams. The links of friendship go back to 1998.

Mission Centre in Colca Canyon

The Mission Centre in the Colca Canyon now has the roof of the ground floor. The Bishop was in Cabanaconde (where the centre has been built) on December 18-19 to see progress.
This first floor will house the kitchen, dining room, a bedroom and two bathrooms.
Work on the second floor begins today, December 21, and it is hoped to have the roof on by Epiphany (January 6).
The Centre is being faced in stone from the surrounding hills and the roof will be finished in thatch, all of which will blend in perfectly with the surrounding area. The views of the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest in the world (over 3/4 mile at some points), are spectacular.
The Mission Centre is a quarter of a mile outside the local town, Cabanaconde, and will serve both the local town and the 12 villages on the other side of the Canyon. Many of the villages are over a day's walk away, along narrow mountain paths. Mission teams will go out from the Centre, and local catechists will be brought in for training and support. P. Alejandro is the mission priest in charge of the work. The Mission will have it's own donkeys and mules, an essential means of transport in the mountains.
The Mission's name is San Felipe (St Philip's), although we've not yet decided if it is to be St Philip the Apostle, St Philip the Deacon (Acts 6) or St Philip the Evangelist (Acts 8).... or maybe we should include them all as we hope the mission will be apostolic, "diaconal" (in service), and evangelistic.... so maybe it should be "The Saints Philip Mission".
There will be a second block with more bedrooms, an office, meeting room and chapel. The third phase of the development will be a church.
[The photos show: (top left) the Mission Centre with the mountains on the far side of the Colca Canyon; (top right) front view of the building; (bottom left) Reynaldo, the Bishop, P. Alejandro and Richard standing in front of the stone facade; (bottom right) P. Alejandro, Reynaldo and Richard looking at the new roof.]

Bishop's Seat

During his visit to the new Mission Centre in the Colca Canyon, the Bishop was presented with a large stone weighing a ton. The five construction workers had brought it from two miles away to be a seat for the Bishop. They had had to move his favourite "prayer rock" when the new building's foundations were being laid, and now they wanted to put another one in its place.
How they moved it from so far is a mystery.... but then again, when you visit Macchu Picchu and other marvellous Inca sites, and see the enormous stones and know how far they were brought, one has to remember that these workmen are from the same stock and descendants of that incredible culture.
The workers want the rock to sit facing the mountains on the far side of the canyon, a seat of prayer for the Bishop and a real catedra.

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