News & Events


Update from Peru

Holy Week and Beyond in the Andes of Peru  by Eileen Egan, IHM

During this awful pandemic of the Coronavirus, many Peruvians felt bad that they couldn´t participate in the processions of Holy Week. The Archbishop of Lima, Monseñor Carlos Castillo, told them that they were personally living the passion of Christ in their lives as they were restricted in so many ways of choosing where they go and what they do, as well as seeing so many of their people suffer and die.

Most of us were able to hear Pope Francis share reflections during his prayer for the world at the Vatican. It was obvious that his sciatica was causing him pain as he limped across the plaza, carrying the Blessed Sacrament to bless the world with Jesus´ love.

Usually, we´re at early morning mass in Sicuani but now there has been a longer time to pray and meditate by the window in my room. Each day, I observe the poor people who receive meals from the soup kitchen pushing and pulling the carts that collect the garbage in our town, taking it to a central place where a truck picks it up. They begin work at 3 a.m. and are required to participate this way if they want to be fed. To me, it´s a modern example of carrying one´s cross. Other people from the Andean communities walk by, carrying heavy loads of corn or potatoes or even a slaughtered sheep on their backs to sell in the market and then return home, lugging supplies they´d bought in town—another way of the cross for them. Normally, trucks would take them to their villages, but now no traffic is allowed.

We´ve had a better than average corn and lima bean harvest from our garden this year and we are sharing some with the poor families we know. A few weeks ago, Ancilla saw four police standing on the corner and went over to ask permission to take out the car to make food deliveries. Ancilla gave them each a chocolate bar, saying, "Don´t throw the wrapper in the street." They laughed and replied, "Yes, Sister." A little humor goes a long way!

At the end of Lent, Ancilla had the idea to hang pictures of the Stations of the Cross on the outside wall of our house. Norma got a ladder and hung them high enough to be out of reach but one night someone lifted the fifth station. We tried to put a charitable interpretation on the thievery, saying maybe the person was inspired by Simon´s kindness, or worse, yet, they needed some kindling to start the fire to cook breakfast. I was able to do a new one and all stayed intact for Good Friday. Currently there´s an Alleluia banner hanging out the second floor window to celebrate Easter.

We´ve been able to tune into the mass on Facebook. There were a few glitches in the beginning. The first Sunday the images were sideways on the laptop. We were going to lie on the floor to get a better perspective but decided to close our eyes and just listen. On other Sundays masses from Toronto and South Dakota came through but, now, we can tune in locally.

Every day we play cards at 5 p.m. hoping we´re lucky enough to get a wild card in the deal. And then there´s mass at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. We´re being creative at using leftovers... lots of corn and lima beans!

Like everyone else, my hair is getting shaggy for lack of a cut. In desperation I´ve made a triangle scarf out of an old turtleneck. Am I the only IHM who looks like Heidi?

For fear of allowing the altar wine in church from turning to vinegar, we brought it down to the house and use it every now and then for a night cap.

To follow up on our food distribution, we visited families again last week. We felt terrible that a crippled woman and her three children hadn´t eaten in three days. I called CARITAS asking if they could help with some staples and they arrived within the hour. Their pick up truck had extra sacks of food and some women came by, asking if their family could be included in the distribution. It was a modern day experience of the multiplication of
the loaves and fishes. So, we´re all in this together as the quarantine continues.