News & Events


Updates From PerĂº

by Sister Eileen Egan, IHM

Recently, the Peruvian National Conference of Religious invited Father Raul Pariamache, SSCC, to give a conference via social media on the experience of the Pandemia. He offered Five Challenges of COVID-19 and his thoughts seem to touch upon everything, especially our experiences in Sicuani.

  1. A Time of Radical Choices: Opting for the most important life values: protecting ourselves while being concerned for the most needy in our society. In order to reduce the crowd at the large farmers' market downtown, the municipality asked the various neighborhoods to set up their own market. Where we live in San Felipe, the people were a little nervous to open the abandoned market across from our House of Studies. The land had previously been a cemetery, and although human remains had been relocated, there was fear that a few lost souls would haunt them. The Board of Directors asked Eileen if she could bless the market before attempting to re-open it. She made copies of Psalm 23 in Quechua, the native tongue. They all sang the psalm together (all had masks and observed social distancing!) and then Eileen told them to paste the prayer on their stand and pray it every day before  beginning work. Then she blessed each stand with Holy Water, with the Board members following her around to make sure no space was missed. Closing with the Our Father, everyone seemed content. So far, no phantoms have been detected. Donations in gratitude for the blessing were used to prepare a food basket for a needy family.

  2. A Time of Anguish: 61 % of Peruvians are experiencing economic hardship during the pandemic, along with reduced funding in parishes from closed churches (none are open as of yet). Although many wage earners have been furloughed, we were able to pay the young woman in charge of the IHM House of Studies, even though no girls are present as of July, thanks to donations from the US and our partner parish in Weiher, Germany. A man and his stepson were hired to paint the church because his home was going to be foreclosed by the bank. A community of 5 Jesuit priests in another town decided to take turns cooking for themselves and sharing left overs with the poor in their neighborhood.

  3. A Time of Agenda Adjustments: Mission activity has lessened and liturgy is on the internet. Recently, one of our neighbors, driving his tractor, was killed by a drunken driver. His family began to experience strange noises in and around the house and felt that he hadn't been properly buried, lacking a church funeral. Always masked Father Justo and Eileen consented to bless the home and pray for the deceased. Some family members gathered in their yard and Father celebrated the Word of God with them, which included a table draped in black, holding a picture of the deceased. Holy water was copiously splashed around the yard and upon everyone present. Peace was the gift of that visit.  

    Sister Norma was scheduled to study in Lima for her Master's but she is still in Sicuani taking her classes via internet this year. Thank God, since we elders aren't supposed to go out much and she's taking care of the shopping.

  4. A Time of Charism and Prophecy: We are called to awaken our original charism which has always included the arts. Recently Ancilla noticed that the wall murals outside a small public school were defaced and plaster had fallen off. She asked the principal if she could repair and re-paint it and he was delighted. Each day a little more was done and while working she had the opportunity to greet all the folks walking by who expressed gratitude for the project. Now the smiling faces of children on the mural will be welcoming the children when they return to school.

  5. A Time of Systemic Change: This question needs asking: What is a non-systemic vision? Does it mean thinking outside the box? One thing that's happened here in Sicuani is that adults are stopping in asking if they can sign up for sacraments. Since we are reflecting on St. Matthew's gospel using a booklet we prepared for the Sunday readings, the late comers need to do some recuperation of the previous readings, but since no date has been decreed for opening the churches, all participants will be welcomed as the crisis subsides because the Word of God has been their guide.