Inspiring news from the frontiers of evangelism.
The opening of the new mission in the Archdiocese of Ayacucho, Peru, on 23 February 2014, under the jurisdiction of the Immaculate Conception Province, USA and in collaboration with the St. Paul Province, Brazil, indeed opened a new chapter in the missionary efforts of our Society. Our hearts were really filled with gratitude to God and much joy during the solemn Eucharistic celebration in the parish of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel at Vilcashuamán, entrusted to our Society.
The primary motive for our joy was not because we have established our charism in another country. The real motive and significance of this mission could be described through a couple of small incidents that took place during our visit to this new mission land.
The first person that we countered after landing in the tiny airport in Ayacucho was a young Peruvian lady with a little child on her back. The child of about three years of age was suffering from some sort of heart problem and she had taken him to Lima for treatment. She was friendly with us and looked very innocent. The child and his young mother touched our hearts. Probably she was a poor lady who was taking great pain to save the life of her little son! It was obvious that she needed help though she asked for nothing from us. We took a photo with her and the child. The first image of our mission.
While waiting at the door of the church to start the procession to the altar, all of a sudden a little girl appeared and wrapped herself with the chasuble worn by Fr. Peter Sticco. He gently placed his hands on her head and blessed her. She was not letting us go. The truth of the matter was that it was cold enough and the child was protecting herself from cold with the chasuble. She was one of the children looked after by a sister in a small house for needy children. The message that could be drawn from this incident was that even as we were moving towards the altar to worship God, we couldn’t forget the needs of people. How often Jesus did just that! He had compassion on them since they were a people without a shepherd. That was why St. Vincent Pallotti himself wanted to become food, drink, cloth…etc..all things to all.
The third incident took place while visiting one of the outstations of the parish. There was a ruined sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception and also a similar parish house. A number of persons assembled to greet us and one of the men said: "We never had a priest here since 20 years…we want our children to grow up in the Catholic Church…" There are still about 800 Catholics in this valley. The place itself, though beautiful with wonderful mountains, really looked like the periphery of human existence. Yet probably here lies our mission…to rebuild this sanctuary of the Immaculate Conception and create the first Pallottine Cenacle in Peru.
In short, what I wish to say is that the primary motive for our missionary work is to respond to the primary vocation of every one of us to be a missionary, an apostle to bear witness to the Good News of Jesus in every corner of the world. In the words of Pope Francis, we are called to go forth in search of the sheep to the peripheries. This alone will give much joy to the evangelized as well as to the evangelizers…the joy of the Gospel!
During the Eucharistic celebration I dedicated this new mission to St. Vincent Pallotti on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his Canonization – a fitting tribute to our holy Founder.
This new missionary venture became possible also due to some other wonderful blessings like the contact with a journalist from Peru, who introduced me to the holy and humble Archbishop of Ayacucho, His Grace Salvatore Piñeiro, and the courage and spirit of collaboration shown by the two Provincial Rectors Fr. Peter Sticco and Fr. Elias Fadul and their Provinces. Above all, let us thank and pray for our two young missionaries whom we have left behind in Peru, Fr. Manoel Santana Viera and Fr. Edvan Viera Serra Sena.
Why do we go out of our own land to open a mission in a distant country? During the many meetings with the Local Communities around the world confreres have often remarked: "we have so much work in Italy…Brazil is such a big country with so many pastoral needs…there is so much to be done in Poland itself…then why should be go to other countries?" We are not going for a mission ad gentes not because we have finished all the pastoral works in a particular country, nor will we ever go out after finishing all the pastoral challenges in a country. Our own Pallottine history shows that often one or two confreres left for a mission land and today the Pallottine presence is flourishing like in Poland, India or Cameroun.
The apostle is the one who is sent forth to continue the saving mission of Jesus. Moreover, we are a pilgrim people moving constantly towards the promised land like Abraham. We believe in the promise of God and that is the act of faith. Only such a pilgrim way will ensure the prophetic and charismatic nature of any religious community and of the Church itself. The mission in Peru was not made possible by our manpower or the strength of our bank balance; it was an act of trust in divine providence. When we set out trusting in God’s promise in order to do his work, we can be sure that He will let us down!
A similar journey is already initiated by our young Region in Rio de Janeiro to open a new mission in Chile. The Regional Superior is on his way to explore the pastoral possibilities in this country where the Pallottines were once present strongly. Once again, never be afraid…go forth in search of God’s people. He will never fail us!
Fr. Jacob Nampudakam, S.A.C. is Rector General of the Pallottines.