Reflection by Msgr. Sean G. Ogle
The Blessed Frassati Fellowship undertook their first mission trip this summer. I was privileged to be invited to assist the group’s spiritual directors, Father Enrique Salvo and Brother Malachy CFR. We clergy joined the 27 missionaries both in manual labor and in doing pastoral visitations and home blessings in the shantytown of Laderas de Chillon, outside Lima, Peru. What was accomplished?
First and most evidently, we built four new homes for families on the ledges high above the city, on narrow ledges cut into the mountainside. Although they are small and lack modern amenities, at least the families can move out of a dirt-floored canvas or cane shelter into a cement-floored wooden structure. It was hard and dirty work, but most rewarding. Many pictures are viewable on the OLMC Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OLMCAstoria and New York Frassati Fellowship Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/27128680665/ as well as our parish website: mountcarmelastoria.org where an album has been created.
Secondly, we shared a very different experience of being the church. The parish of San Damian of Molokai where Laderas is located is partly staffed by a confraternity of consecrated younger laywomen called the Marian Fraternity of Reconciliation. They collaborate with the parish priests who cover not one or two but many worship sites in that part of Lima. The “Fraternas,” as they are known, not only run a camp for shantytown children, but have organized the women of Laderas in a community kitchen which not only feeds people, but serves as a community and adult education and leadership space. It was they who arranged for our constructions sites, home visits and lodging. Parish ministry in the developing world seems rather different from the U.S. parish experience of societies, schools, sports and socials.
Finally, the experience had a great impact on most of us volunteers. Many among us spoke and wrote about both the difficulty and the elation of helping others in such extreme need. Our group also shared extensive prayer time each day with lauds, vespers, Rosary, Holy Hour and Mass every day to provide us with perspective and strength. I would suggest that this unique journey was indeed one of those liminal experiences that give us a glimpse into the spiritual realities of human existence that often elude our vision in our normal everyday lives. It might be worthwhile to consider undertaking such a project in the future as a parish program.
While in Peru, we celebrated the feast of the Transfiguration. For the people of Laderas’ mountains, their lives are perhaps as mundane and difficult as our own; for us volunteers we were able through them to have a glimpse of the resurrection, as did the Apostles when Our Lord was transfigured before them on Mount Horeb. Like Peter, James and John, let us all continue “to discuss what to rise from the dead meant.” (Mk 9:10)
Reflexión de Viaje Misiónario en Perú por Monseñor Sean G. Ogle
El Apostolado Bendito Frassati emprendió su primer viaje misionero de este verano. Tuve el privilegio de ser invitado a asistir a los directores espirituales del grupo, el Padre Enrique Salvo y Hermano Malachy CFR. Nosotros el clero se unían a los 27 misioneros tanto en mano de obra y al hacer las visitas pastorales y bendiciones de casas en el barrio pobre de Laderas de Chillon, en las afueras de Lima, Perú. ¿Qué se logró?
Lo primero y más evidente, hemos construido cuatro nuevas viviendas para las familias en las repisas altas por encima de la ciudad, en las cornisas estrechas excavadas en la ladera de la montaña. Aunque son pequeños y carecen de las comodidades modernas, como mínimo, las familias pueden salir de un lienzo con piso de tierra o la vivienda de caña en una estructura de madera con piso de cemento. Era difícil y el trabajo sucio, pero más gratificante. Muchas fotos se pueden ver en las páginas de Facebook de Monte Carmelo: https://www.facebook.com/OLMCAstoria y del Nueva York Frassati compañerismo (New York Frassati Fellowship): https://www.facebook.com/groups/27128680665/ así como nuestra página web de la parroquia, mountcarmelastoria.org donde se ha creado un álbum.
En segundo lugar, compartimos una experiencia muy diferente de ser la iglesia. La parroquia de San Damián de Molokai, donde se encuentra Laderas está parcialmente atendida por una cofradía de mujeres laicas consagradas jóvenes llamado la Fraternidad Mariana de la Reconciliación. Colaboran con los párrocos que cubren no uno o dos, sino muchos sitios de culto en esa parte de Lima. Las "fraternas," como se les conocen, no sólo ejecutar un campamento para niños de villas, pero se han organizado las mujeres de Laderas en una cocina de la comunidad que no sólo alimenta a la gente, sino que sirve como la educación comunitaria y de adultos y el espacio de liderazgo. Fueron ellos los que organizar para nuestras construcciones, visitas domiciliarias y alojamiento. Ministerio parroquial en el mundo en desarrollo parece bastante diferente de la experiencia de la parroquia de los EEUU de las sociedades, escuelas, deportes y eventos sociales.
Por último, la experiencia tuvo un gran impacto en la mayoría de nosotros los voluntarios. Muchos entre nosotros hablaron y escribieron acerca tanto a la dificultad y la alegría de ayudar a otros de tal necesidad extrema. Nuestro grupo también compartió extenso tiempo de oración cada día con laudes, vísperas, Rosario, Hora Santa y la Santa Misa todos los días que nos proporcione perspectiva y fuerza. Yo sugeriría que este viaje único era de hecho una de esas experiencias liminales que nos dan una visión de las realidades espirituales de la existencia humana que a menudo escapan a nuestra visión en nuestras vidas cotidianas normales. Podría valer la pena considerar la realización de un proyecto de este tipo en el futuro como un programa parroquial.
Mientras que en Perú, celebramos la fiesta de la Transfiguración. Para la gente de las montañas Laderas, sus vidas son quizás tan mundano y difícil como el nuestro; para nosotros los voluntarios pudimos través de ellos para tener una idea de la resurrección, como lo hicieron los apóstoles cuando Nuestro Señor se transfiguró delante de ellos en el monte Horeb. Al igual que Pedro, Santiago y Juan, vamos todos a seguir "para discutir lo que significaba resucitar de los muertos." (Mc 9:10)
What follows is the continuation of the mission trip as written by the group’s leader:
Greetings from the mountain city of Cusco! Here is an update on this past week.
We ended our Mission in Laderas (the shantytown where we were doing our projects) this past Wednesday and flew out from Lima to Cusco early Thursday morning.
Neither words nor photos will be able to do justice to our experience working within the Laderas community this past week, but all we can say is that we received far more than we ever could give.
From Sunday through Wednesday (Aug. 2 to 5), we finished constructing the four homes. One day was spent mixing cement (all by hand) and laying the foundations for two of the homes. Another day was spent nailing together all the boards that would create the walls. And in the final days, we erected the walls and added the roofing.
Although the houses were little more than basic wooden structures with cement floor and no plumbing, to the families and especially the children who will now be living in them, they were beauties to behold and long-awaited answers to prayers. One mother even shared with us that this was all she could ever hope or ask for.
During these days, our two priests Father Enrique Salvo and Monsignor Sean Ogle with Brother Malachy CFR did home visits throughout the community. Accompanied by different missionaries each day, they anointed the sick, comforted the lonely and most importantly brought Jesus in the Holy Eucharist to many who have not been able to receive Him due to various circumstances.
During one home visit, we met an elderly woman whose husband was in the hospital. She had a broken arm and was also the victim of constant looting because of her vulnerable state. Her home was one room with dirt floors that measured little more than 15ft by 15ft. It accommodated two beds, a small table and small stove. Upon entering, one would struggle to understand what in the world someone would try to loot from her home. And in conversing with her, we learned that the looters would take even the little food that she had. Despite all of this, the charity in her heart remained true and she shared that part of her prayers were for these men who would steal from her, that they would have a conversion of heart.
After meeting her, we arranged with a local "dining room" (a community kitchen run by women in which affordable meals are prepared for children and the poor) to bring her food. Just to give you an idea of how far even a little can go, we paid 100 local Soles or approximately $31.00, which was enough to bring her meals for one full year.
After much embracing and joyful yet bittersweet tears, we left Laderas and ended the evening at Cruz Blanca with a bonfire, singing and fellowship.
Thursday morning August 6, we departed from Cruz Blanca and flew from Lima to Cusco. At 11,000ft above sea level, we struggled as a group to adjust to the altitude when we landed. We did a city tour during the day and celebrated Mass and Holy Hour at the San Antonio Chapel within Cusco's seminary thanks to the archdiocese of Cusco.
Today, Friday, August 7 we were all thankfully fit enough to travel to Machu Picchu. Not only were we able to visit this incredible site, but we also had the privilege of celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on this historic mountain top. While our tour guides stood as sentinels to watch for and ward off the local guards, the group formed as Father Sean said "an impenetrable human wall" (or something to that effect) so we could celebrate Mass without disruption. What a gift and honor it was to be with one another in the heights and receive Jesus in the Eucharist.
We look forward to sending out our final update soon as we fly back to Lima tomorrow morning, Saturday, August 8, for the final leg of this journey.
Frassati Missions Team