Linking With Lima

The Twinning Project: Linking With Lima

The St. Charles Social Justice Committee is about to embark on a new and exciting experience. An experience of learning and sharing, of discovery and caring. Beginning this year we hope, along with you our parishioners, to be entering into a relationship of solidarity known as 'twinning' with the parish of “Christ the Liberator” in Lima, Peru. "Twinning", or the setting up of a "Sister Parish", is a practical, proven and rewarding pattern for Catholic involvement with the Global Church.

This partnership offers lay people a special opportunity to share, collaborate and participate in being part of the universal Church. Twinning is not just another opportunity to give to the less fortunate. The twinning relationship is joint and reciprocal. The developing country is not just a receiver (for money, material goods, for example,) but it is a giver and sharer. These bridges of faith offer as much to us, the Canadian parish, as to our partner parish in the South. We will be changed as we enter into a relationship with another community of faith.

Through the development of this relationship of “parish twinning”, groups in our parish would have the opportunity to enter into relationship with groups of men, women, young adults, youth and children from our sister parish. Through this relationship, we could share who we are and discover more about the lives, joys and struggles of our Catholic sisters and brothers in Lima, Peru. Through this relationship, we can be there for them and they can be there for us through prayer, exchange of ideas, intercultural awareness, and other kinds of learning and support.

This would be an on-going, longterm commitment between members of St. Charles Parish and Christ the Liberator Parish in Lima, Peru. This is our opportunity to establish personal relationships with people from another culture and to deepen our understanding of the requirements for peace and social justice. This is an invitation to all of us to grow in our faith alongside our brothers and sisters in Lima.

We will be providing you with additional information about the Lima parish and the Twinning project in future bulletins.

To enter into this relationship, we will need to develop a core group of 5-15 people to work on the 'Linking with Lima' project. The core group -would make decisions and choose direction for the rest of us, as a parish. You may want to join this group as an individual parishioner or you may want to provide your own feedback regarding such a project. Your comments are welcomed and your interest in assisting in this project is encouraged. You can find comment sheets for this purpose in the wall pockets as you exit the church. Thank you for your attention.

Once you have read the reverse explanation of our plans for Twinning, you may be interested in these additional facts about Christ the Liberator Parish in Lima. The following has been emailed to us by a very busy Father Gerry. Correspondence is very difficult, due to Father’s long hours and his absences ministering to outlying chapels.

There are approximately 90,000 people in Christ the Liberator Parish boundaries [85% Catholic], which is 12 km from Lima’s central core. Within the Parish are 6 chapels - 4 larger ones, 2 small ones in outlying areas and 2 new chapels under construction. In addition there are many smaller communities that Father Gerry attempts to visit as time allows.

Each of the larger chapels could easily be a parish in themselves with 2 fulltime priests ministering to them. Father Gerry has one other priest, one seminarian and a pastoral worker assisting him. There are also 3 nuns, two live in the hills working mostly with women, and one elderly sister looks after the First Communion programme and kindergarten in one of the larger chapels. There is also a secretary who works 23 hours a week and a part-time social worker who helps out with difficult cases.

The area covered by the larger Parish is considered a ‘pueblo joven’ or young town, connoting an area inhabited by formerly rural people coming into the larger city for a better quality of life. Characteristically there is more crime, poverty and underemployment.

There is limited or no access to clean drinking water, and most homes are shacks of bamboo, wood, cardboard and similar other cast-off materials.

Each chapel has a pastoral council that meets once a month. In addition each chapel sends representatives to the monthly Parish Council meetings. Every chapel also has a liturgy committee, and groups for teaching Sunday School, Confirmation and Adolescents. Youth are a concern as there are constant street fights between rival gangs with some injured and others killed. There is an Anti Family Violence group [all women] and a Health Care group [women who run the medicine shops and offer alternative medicines e.g. reflexology]

They have a private kindergarten for 3 to 5 year olds [75 children] but not yet a school for older ones . [There are 6 state schools in the parish and many smaller private ones]. The kindergarten is mainly for poorer families of one chapel. The Children get a good basic education, are fed 3 meals a day, and it provides the single mothers [most of whom have been abandoned by their husbands] an opportunity to go out and work while their children are in school.

Summation of email from Father Gerry of Christ The Liberator Parish, Lima, Peru.

Further to the existing kindergarten established by Father Gerry, he is in the process of starting another kindergarten near one of the new chapels scheduled to open March '09. The parish together with the local community will operate it, once having received state approval. He has also purchased land in the hills for another kindergarten for 3 - 5 year olds. Parents are very eager to have their youngsters in school.

Each chapel area has its own youth group, with some joint activities between groups. They are run semi-independently, with the parish providing a sense of unity. There is a network of libraries in different communities (nine in all), small medicine stores, five parish community kitchens, and a bakery.

     

Attempts to form parish choirs have failed, but there are some guitarists in the larger chapels. Father Gerry is attempting to launch a music school which will hopefully give rise to the formation of a band to be used for liturgies, processions, and celebrations. Thus far, he has acquired a second-hand piano, three guitars, and seven other band instruments. He is counting on a retired teacher to give instructions for a nominal fee.

Father Gerry would also like to set up a large youth centre on an under-developed site. He envisions a large event hall possibly with activities to channel youth energy, i.e., boxing club, gymnastics, music programs, motor/electronics school, etc. In addition, it could serve as a funeral chapel, a seniors' drop-in centre, and a kindergarten. He is traveling to his native Ireland in 2010 where he hopes to solicit funds for this project.

To give you a sense of how different their climate is from ours, late June to late September is 'winter' or the rainy season. During this period, the weather is often overcast, with light drizzle and mist. This year brought more fog and precipitation. Currently it is spring, with summer spanning the period from December 22nd until March 21st. Typically, the region is desert-like, getting only 2mm of rain per year. Most days, the sun is a welcomed sight.

Again, if you are interested in working on this project or have other comments, please complete a green form found in the wall pockets at the church entrance.