Saturday, July 11, 2009


The visit to Cabanconde in the Colca Canyon was marked by visits to homes, prayer, Bible Study (Lectio Divina), silence and the stunning beauty of God's creation. It is without doubt one of the most beautiful places I know and our mission centre, built of stone, is worthy of it.

The vision we began with had three aspects to it: a place of prayer, community life and mission springing from service, and all three are beginning to happen. Padre Alejandro and Deacon Justo, together with Alejandro's wife Doris, are known and loved in this small market town. Children rush up to hug Padre Alejandro and all of them know him because of his visits to the schools, and because of that the parents too. They also help in the fields during the time of sewing and reaping when there is so much to do, and people are amazed and grateful to see clergy hard at work alongside them.

Deacon Justo is very quiet and reserved, but he faithfully visits peoples' homes and they seek him out to have him visit and pray with them; and Doris joins him in this, especially among the womenfolk.

It is good to have a team of ministers; they can share the load and the dangerous journeys along mountain paths. It is our hope that every visit to the mountain villages will provide an opportunity for other clergy, seminarians and lay workers - from Lima and Arequipa - to go with them, and for others to stay behind and maintain the ministry in Cabanaconde while they're away.

Before October of this year we hope to have an "outdoor chapel" which will provide a bigger place for the growing congregation to meet. At present they meet in the central dining/living room of the house. But it's already full, and for the Eucharist last Thursday (9th June) during my visit, there were over fifty people. The "outdoor chapel" will have a sanctuary built of stone with a thatched roof, and the nave will be made of an open wooden frame with a thatched roof.

We have also made moves to acquire the next door plot of land, which we hope will enable us to expand our work and also bring in some income to maintain the mission, with stone bungalows that can be used for retreats and rest.

[The photo shows a young mother bringing her child to receive a blessing in the Eucharist. Her typical dress is still seem commonly in the streets and surrounding fields of Cabanaconde.]

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