Monday, February 18, 2013

A Look at Lima, Peru

As I shared in an earlier post, in December I flew straight from Honduras to Lima, Peru for a family wedding of some very good friends and faithful benefactors. Lima is a modern city with rich Catholic, Spanish colonial and indigenous Inca roots. It is perched on a cliff overlooking the Pacific ocean on the edge of a desert that runs right up to the coast. I had the chance to see some of the sights of the city and even make an excursion to the agricultural areas north of Lima.

Lima, from the southern side of the city.

A gigantic statue of Christ overlooking the poor barrios on the city´s expanding southern edge.

The name of this restaurant is, "The Friar's Leap."

The cathedral and the Plaza de Armas.

A beautiful government building with wooden window balconies in downtown Lima.

A statue of St. Martin de Porres in front of his family home (above). Just across the courtyard is the church of St. Rose of Lima (below), built on the site of her family home; her tomb is at the base of the rear high altar.

A beautiful park on the edge of the cliff overlooking the ocean (above)
where paragliders (below) take off and land on the breezes that rise from the sea.

One of the beautiful and amazing sites in downtown Lima is the water fountain park, where there are many different sizes and shapes of fountains, illuminated at night. Some have changing lights and shapes.

The water fountain tunnel:

The labyrinth, where supposedly someone is able to make it to the middle and back out again without getting wet, if close attention is paid to the changing pattern of spouting water. 

The nightly laser projection show on the central fountain:

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Image of the tiny Virgin of Suyapa, carried in procession.
In the week following the Pan de Vida retreat, I helped out with the heavy weekly Mass schedule of the cathedral parish, celebrating the Eucharist in the chapels of San Judas Tadeo, Nuestra Señora de Fátima, Suyapita and San Pablo. It was a special blessing for me, though, to be present in Honduras for the celebration of its national patroness, the Virgin of Suyapa on February 3.

Candlelight procession of local Catholic school students (above and below)
following the vehicle bearing the image of Our Lady of Suyapa.
The image of Our Lady of Suyapa is a tiny, 6 cm (2.36 in) wooden carved statue of the Virgin Mary found in 1747 by Alejandro Colindres, a campesino laborer forced to sleep out in the open in a dry river bed on his way back home working in the fields. He and his family at once recognized in this unusual discovery the hand of God and the presence and love of the Virgin Mary for the Honduran people. The original is kept in the chapel/basilica of Our Lady of Suyapa in Tegucigalpa. There are many replicas throughout the country. One of the chapels connected with San Isidro Cathedral Parish is Suyapita, which celebrates Feb 3 with special solemnity.

The vigil celebration of the solemnity began with a procession originating at the cathedral and continuing ten blocks to the chapel of Suyapita. The Virgin of Suyapa was arrayed with lights and flowers and borne on the back of a pickup truck. Hundreds of Catholc school students carrying candles, a marching band, military personnel and hundreds of other Catholic faithful followed. Hundreds more were waiting for the procession at the outdoor stage where Mass would be celebrated.

Platform for the large, outdoor Mass.

Members of the Honduran Air Force standing guard
near the image of Our Lady of Suyapa, who is their special patroness.
Bishop Michael Lenihan celebrated Mass, which included lots of lively music, a vibrant offertory procession, and the "presentation" of a 40 day old infant girl with the name "Suyapa."

Bishop Michael Lenihan, OFM, and servers preparing to begin Mass.

The bishop receiving an offertory gift from a Garifuna dancer.
(The Garifunas are an Honduran ethnic group of African descent.) 

Bishop Michael presenting 40 day old "Suyapa" at the Mass.

Pilgrims praying at the Suyapita Chapel.
Because it is a national solemnity, the celebration continued the next day, Sunday, in the various chapels of the diocese. I celebrated at the cathedral and the chapels of Inmaculado Corazón of María and La Guadalupe.

Fr. Herald with a woman and her children after Mass
in the chapel of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, El Sauce, La Ceiba.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

La Ceiba, Honduras - Feast of the Presentation / Day of Consecrated Life

Bishop Michael blessing the candles at the entrance of the church.
On February 2, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. According to ancient practice, on that day - if possible - candles are blessed outside of church and carried in procession inside. This act symbolizes the entrance of the Infant Christ into the Temple. During his pontificate, Pope John Paul II also proclaimed February 2nd as the Day of Consecrated Life in the Church. In La Ceiba, the Day of Consecrated Life is celebrated by a special Mass celebrated by the bishop for the religious of diocese.

The religious enter the church in procession (above),
and participate in Mass (below).

It was a beautiful opportunity for me to see the variety and strength of the different spiritual families and expressions of consecrated life present in the Diocese of La Ceiba, and for all of us to be renewed and encouraged by the words of the bishop and the presence of one another. The local Christian Family Movement graciously prepared and served a wonderful meal of appreciation for the religious sisters, brothers and priests of the diocese.

At the dinner prepared by the Christian Family Movement (above and below).

Monday, February 11, 2013

La Ceiba, Honduras - Pan de Vida Retreat & Jesús en la Playa

Downtown La Ceiba, with a view of its central plaza.
On January 23 I headed back to the north coast of Honduras. The first event on the agenda was to help lead the Pan de Vida Eucharistic Youth Retreat for approximately 150 confirmation candidates (and others) from San Isidro Cathedral Parish. Fr. Gregorio, CFR and Br. Tobias, CFR travelled north from Comayagua to help with Masses, preaching, Confessions and music. Missioners of Christ (also based in Comayagua) brought along 15 lay missionaries to help organize, direct, speak and play music for the retreat.

Fr. Gregorio, CFR and Carol Restaine of Missioners of Christ at the Pan de Vida retreat.

Youth participants (above) and the music ministry (below).

Several of the Missioners of Christ team stayed for an extra couple of days following the retreat to participate in the advance planning of the next evangelization event scheduled to take place in La Ceiba: "Jesús en la Playa / Jesus on the Beach," an outreach to the many tourists who come to the north coast during Holy Week.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Haiti 2013 - Faces of Families and Children

Finally - as a tribute - the faces of some of the amazing people we had the privilege to serve in Haiti. People who strive daily and with such great nobility to overcome overwhelming obstacles tp have a dignified life for themselves and their children.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Haiti 2013 - Evangelization, Medical Attention, Food Handout and the New Cassava Project

Sr. Felicity and Sr. Ann Kateri with Christian, their translator,
on one of the steep paths that wind through the neighborhood.
As I shared in the previous post, the Haiti mission trip has various components. In addition to the construction project, a medical team composed of several RNs, a nurse practitioner and a doctor saw over a thousand patients in the week we were there. This team comes back twice in between the larger January trips. In addition to working on one of the construction crews, I also served as priest-chaplain for the team, and celebrated morning Mass, and led evening Holy Hour for the friars and sisters and any interested lay team members who wanted to join us. For the second year in a row, I had the privilege of baptizing a Haitian infant, this time the daughter of one of the helpers in the medical clinic who asked nurse Sharon (below) to be the godmother.

Baptism at which Sharon, one of the regular nurses on the medical team, served as godmother.
The CFR Sisters who joined us for the trip worked pretty much full time in evangelization: among the patients waiting at the medical clinic, with students at the nearby Catholic school, in homes and on the streets.

Sr. Felicity and Sr. Ann Kateri distributing miraculous medals during a visit to the nearby school run by the Little Brothers of St. Therese, who hosted our team.

Another major aspect involved purchasing, packing and preparing a massive food distribution to 400+ families in the neighborhood. The afternoon of the food handout as many of the different crew members as were able worked together to help this activity run smoothly and peacefully.

400 families wait in line for the food distribution.
St. Therese Church, staffed by the Brothers who hosted us, is in the background.

All hands on deck for the food handout!
One additional special detour on this year's mission was a trip to Hinche (about a three hour's drive into the Haitian countryside), done at the suggestion of Br. Mano, the new superior of the Little Brothers of St. Therese. In Hinche, the Brothers have a cassava processing facility. The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, Franciscan Mission Outreach and Friar Suppliers have all pitched in to support a project in which the Little Brothers of St. Therese will designate a portion of their large tract of land in Hinche to be used free of charge  by impoverished families to cultivate cassava (seedlings and yokes of oxen to be provided), which can then be processed at the Brother's facility without any cost to the families.

Peeled cassava roots waiting to be pressed, dried and ground at the Brothers' facility.

A yoke of oxen to be used by poor families to prepare the soil for cassava planting.

Me with Jackinson (one of my fellow crew members) and his two daughters.

Charlie Moran, our team leader (in the yellow shirt), with the amazing construction team:
Greg (left), Alan (center) and Bernie (right).

Bernie with Fritznell, our construction crew translator.

The Friar Suppliers 2013 Haiti Mission Trip Franciscan contingent together with Charlie Moran, the miracle man.
Left to right: Br. Angelus, Sr. Felicity, Br. Crispin, Charlie, Fr. Herald, Sr. Ann Kateri, Br. Tansi.