WYD13 Blog - Bishop Anthony Blogs his experience in Lima
From the WYD13 Parramatta Pilgrims Blog
We have started each day with singing Morning Prayer at 6:30am in the chapel of the old seminary in which we are staying and finished the day at 10pm by singing Night Prayer with Eucharistic Adoration and Confessions. Our young pilgrims have been very prayerful and are learning their way around the intricacies of a simplified Divine Office. They are very devout at our daily Masses and sing beautifully. I preach at every third Mass and our excellent priest chaplains take turns preaching at the others.
Lima is built on mountains and valleys of volcanic rock and dust. It looks like the dross of some mining operation or a sci-fi set of some alien and inhospitable planet. The dust is everywhere. There is very little vegetation, though the Church is trying to promote tree planting on the hills. Our pilgrims planted more than 200 trees as part of this programme to decrease the erosion and purify the air. The smog – more dust than pollution, mixed with natural mist – means the sky is rarely visible.
Amongst this desolation ten million souls eek out an existence. The endless favelas on the mountains, to which the only access is hundreds of concrete steps (or worse), are hodgepodges of one or two room shanties, junk, dogs and canine faeces – and children galore. Our diocese and some benefactors, in association with Caritas Peru, have funded the building of ten ‘houses of hope’ in the El Agustino favela which our pilgrims have painted and finished. We blessed them today with an auxiliary bishop of Lima. These homes have been allocated to needy families and we met each new householder couple (or single mother) and their several children. Though a two room house seems small to us, it is a palace compared to what many of them have been used to.
The people are hugely grateful. I spoke to one woman who is a natural leader in her community and the beneficiary of one of these Caritas houses from some years ago. There is much hope.
Elsewhere in the city our young people have helped finish a church, taught classes in infant, primary and secondary schools, painted schools and an old people’s home and done many other things for God’s little ones.
Our pilgrims have talked to me very beautifully about how these experiences have affected them: how much more grateful they now are for the life they have at home and all the opportunities; yet how appreciative they are of the people they have come to know here; how much happier many of the children are here than in Australia, despite having so little; how they can make fun in the dust with two plastic coins or a soccer ball and no play stations or TV; how they would have nothing if the Church were not there providing for people’s temporal or spiritual needs; how precious faith is to carry people through adversity…
Our young people have found the poverty confronting and the projects challenging but have thrown themselves into them with real enthusiasm and generosity. They are gentle and loving with the little ones. I’ve been impressed by their maturity and humility as well. They are clearly learning a lot not just about this very different world but about themselves and their God.
Later today we will have a final Mass with Cardinal Cipriani, the Archbishop of Lima, his auxiliary bishops, the priests and Caritas people with whom we’ve worked, and some young people from Lima. I expect our young people to be both elated at what they have achieved and to be grieving their departure from this short but intense chapter of their lives. I am very proud of them and have been strengthened in my own faith and sense of mission by them.
Read Bishop Anthony's full blog post at parrawyd.org
Diocesan site links:
Read Bishop Anthony’s WYD Pilgrimage Homily - Votive Mass of St Martin de Porres
Go to WYD13 Pilgrimage Photo Gallery - Lima 17 July
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