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
Msgr. Sean Ogle is presently serving as chaplain for a wonderful group of young adults known as the Blessed Frassati Fellowship, a ministry of the Capuchin Friars of the Renewal, founded by the late great Fr. Benedict Groeschel. These are a community of young professionals who meet regularly for prayer and social, and annually take on a missionary trip to assist with manual labor in a mission country. This year, Msgr. Ogle has accompanied them to Peru to rebuild homes near Lima.
What follows is a diary of their first few days as written by the group’s leader:
We would like to let you know that we arrived safely in Lima Thursday night, July 30th . We have been at the camp for three days now and have enjoyed beautiful lodging and great hospitality from the Fraternas. We have also been able to visit the local town and be a part of projects helping the community. We have been visiting the families and building homes for those we meet. We are able to fall asleep to the sound of the ocean and wake up to the laughter and chatter of the children currently staying at the camp... except for the men whose quarters are on the other side of camp and are awoken by a local rooster.
The first day, July 31st, we spent as a group bringing sand and cement bags up a very steep mountain (about the length of football field) by forming an assembly line. This was to start building one of the four homes we will be constructing during our time here. At the end of the day, we were all exhausted, covered in sand and looked as if we'd all jumped into a pool with our clothes on.
On Saturday, August 1st, we split up into 4 groups and started working on the 4 homes in different capacities (laying the floor, constructing the wall frames, etc.). One of the women even made a huge (and delicious) bag of popcorn for the team constructing her home.
Tomorrow, Sunday, August 2nd, we will have the privilege of celebrating Mass with the community and spending the afternoon playing football and doing other activities with the children.
The humility and warmth of the people here is humbling, convicting and inspiring. Although some of the families we've met live in desperate circumstances, their hospitality and desire to give us even in their needs is an immeasurable gift we are growing to realize we can never repay. It challenges us to ask ourselves if we ever give from our needs or just from our surpluses. The people here truly know and live a love of sacrifice and it is a blessing to have this encounter with them.
Thank you all for your continued prayers and support.
Frassati Missions Team
On Thursday, July 16, over 300 parishioners joined in celebrating our parish’s 174th anniversary with a multi-lingual mass in honor of our patroness, Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Our main celebrant was Msgr. Sean G. Ogle, Pastor and concelebrated by Parochial Vicar, Father Joe Pham. They were assisted by our two Spanish deacons, Manuel Barahona and Ruben Mendez. The beautiful floral arrangements and the shrine in this picture were created by the Spanish Novena Group. A reception followed in the Parish Institute. Pictures by Nina Carullo are posted in the Photo Gallery. Click here to view the entire album. Video at YouTube