By Anne Marie Amacher
BETTENDORF – For two-and-a-half weeks, students in preschool through eighth grade at Lourdes Catholic School collected “Pennies for Peru.” On Sept. 19, Principal David Hobin presented two priests from Peru with a check for $1,198.37 at the end of the all-school Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Church.
Padre Alberto Rios, the current pastor of Our Lady of Reconciliation Chapel in Arequipa, Peru, was joined by the chapel’s former pastor, Padre Marcio Paulo de Souza who is now in Lima, Peru.
The priests arrived Sept. 18 to visit Our Lady of Reconciliation’s sister parish.
Fr. Rios said the money would be used for pastoral work. Through an interpreter, he said some money will be used to purchase materials needed to prepare students for first Communion and confirmation. The rest of the money will be used for liturgical needs of the chapel.
Our Lady of Lourdes Parish and Our Lady of Reconciliation Chapel have been partnered for two years, said Cathy Thennes, Lourdes’ parish nurse and organizer of the Peru partnership.
The relationship began with emails. In the summer of 2011 a delegation from Lourdes traveled to Peru and brought items the chapel needed, such as a monstrance and tabernacle that the Bettendorf parish had in storage.
Since that time, Lourdes has donated $5,000 so that the Peru parishioners could repair the holey roof of their chapel. Other recent improvements the parish has been able to make, Fr. Rios said, are installation of a new front door, new storage closet and lighting.
Our Lady of Reconciliation serves the faith needs of the area people, but also has a building connected on the back side that serves as a medical clinic, pharmacy and daycare. “We minister in many ways,” Fr. de Souza said.
The priests talked about the importance of the faith for the people living in that impoverished area of Peru. “They reach out to all, not just the people in the chapel,” Fr. de Souza said.
The interpreter, Lourdes’ parishioner Leoncio Espinoza, said the two parishes were brought together by the Holy Trinity and the Virgin Mary. “They made this possible. Man did not make it happen.”
The priests talked about the upcoming month-long celebration of the “Purple Christ.” That is the Christ of miracles. The faithful participate in processions in towns throughout Peru and also practice devotions in their homes.
Parishioners offer their homes for people to come to recite the rosary. “It’s like a pilgrimage,” Fr. Rios said. “They go neighborhood to neighborhood and pray. In the big cities they go from church to church.”
During the Mass Sept. 19, prayers of petition and responses were recited in English and Spanish. The junior high students recited the Hail Mary in Spanish as the visiting priests, along with Lourdes Pastor Father Tim Sheedy, sat in front pews to watch the class.
“It is our pleasure to help and we want to thank you for being here,” Fr. Sheedy said.
The Peru priests visited with Bishop Martin Amos later that afternoon. The priests told the bishop they had come to the United States to express gratitude to the members of their sister parish and to build on the partnership. Bishop Amos thanked them for coming and asked questions about the Arequipa parish and the community in which it is located.
The priests also concelebrated Masses Sept. 22-23 at Lourdes, attended the Lourdes parish festival and gave a talk about the Peru chapel on Sept. 24.
Strengthening international partnerships
A webinar titled International Parish Twinning and Partnerships will be held Oct. 3 from 12:30-1:30 p.m. via the Internet for parishes and groups that have or are considering establishing relationships with parishes in other countries.
Ken and Kathy Miller, parishioners of St. John Vianney Parish in Bettendorf, will lead the webinar (a seminar over the Internet). They recently represented the Diocese of Davenport at a national solidarity conference hosted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Catholic Relief Services. Topics the Millers will cover include important elements of twinning partnerships, short-term missions and micro enterprises. At a later date, a second webinar will focus on the unique features of partnerships with the people of Haiti. St. John Vianney has a partnership with Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Jean Denis, Haiti.
“The work that St. John Vianney, Our Lady of Lourdes in Bettendorf and a number of parishes in our diocese are engaged in with international parishes demonstrates what a strong partnership can look like,” said diocesan Social Action Director Kent Ferris. He hopes the webinar will help to raise greater awareness of the elements of Catholic Social Teaching that play out in parish partnerships.
Webinar participants may attend in person at diocesan headquarters, 780 W. Central Park Ave., Davenport, or register via email to participate offsite. Contact Ferris by email at ferris@davenportdiocese.
org or call him at (563) 888-4211.
Those attending in person are invited to lunch at diocesan headquarters, but please register ahead of time. You may also bring a sack lunch instead.
If you are interested in the webinar, but unable to attend, a CD of the presentation will be available. Contact Ferris to request one.