By Msgr. J. Donald Gorski
God’s providence is a wonder to behold and never ceases to amaze me. I often think we are like Mr. Magoo, the cartoon. We walk about half-blind but the Lord, seeing our need, keeps working things out for us in ways we neither know nor understand.
I worked six years in Peru in the ’70s and my sister, Sister Caritas, briefly visited me in 1973. Seeing the great need she said she wanted to work here. I thought she was serious, but 24 years later she hadn’t arrived. She said she would come when she could finish her ministry in Mexico.
Our two Irish nuns here had to leave in 1999. Just before they left Lima for Europe, they met another nun who was just arriving to work in Peru. It was Sister Caritas.
This was not human planning; God arranged it.
Sister Caritas has started many 12-week prayer workshops in this parish and others and is starting a program geared for teen-agers. She has trained a team of leaders to put these on all over the north. People are really learning how to pray for a half-hour each day.
I once wrote that if anyone in the parish is suffering from hunger or malnourishment it is not my sister’s fault. She supervises the daily morning distribution of bread and bananas to between 100 and 500 people, heads a committee that runs soup kitchens feeding a daily hot meal to more than 2,000 children and elderly, and creates work for 140 people weekly paying them with bags of food.
She has provided free dental care to 1,500 children and 400 adults, school uniforms and shoes to 2,000 children, and programs offering health care and formation to hundreds of mothers.
As part of our parish staff she works with some of our 27 parish councils. She heads the committee that is doubling the size of our Zorritos church and is building a new one in La Crux. She heads the committee that provides two years of preparation for hundreds of teen-agers who are going to receive the sacrament of confirmation in 35 towns and villages.
All this in addition to countless other works of service. At 71 years of age the Lord gives her tremendous energy.
We work as a team with a marvelous Peruvian man and woman — along with three fine seminarians. We ordinarily begin every day with prayer before the Blessed Sacrament in our rectory chapel. We pray and meet for almost an hour. Decisions are made by consensus. By the grace of God we remain in communion with each other. This gives us the authority to build community throughout the parish.
My sister is away for two months. She is spending Aug. 5 in Medjugorje. On top of that our three wonderful seminarians leave in two weeks. I am not sure how we are going to sustain all the ministries.
We have been blessed in that the archbishop sent 11 young men finishing their seminary training to work in the parish for a period of time.
However, we now have a parish in full operation with a parish staff being reduced from seven people to only three. If you ask someone in this parish “What’s the parish motto?” they will answer “We do what we can with what we got.”
A great retreat master in Ecuador gave us some good advice. He said, “When you’re overwhelmed by work and difficulties in the parish, here is what you need to do: sit in a comfortable chair, put your feet up on the desk, your hands behind your head, close your eyes, breathe deeply and slowly while repeating the words of John the Baptist: ‘I am not the Messiah. I am not the Messiah.'”
Fortunately the parish is not mine, but the Lord’s and all the problems that go with it are ultimately his. He is the Messiah and Savior. His mysterious providence that brought me and my sister here will provide some way to meet the needs of the people.
To the many agents of God’s providence, whose prayers and gifts sustain our ministry and are deeply affecting countless human lives, our sincere thanks. We are just the distributor. You are the providers and God’s providence is the loving plan and force that puts us all together in loving service to his poor.
As I write this on Aug. 6, that providence has provided funds to continue our many ministries for four more weeks. I’ve consistently watched the Lord provide just what is needed and believe he will continue to do so. After all, he is the Messiah and Savior!
Msgr. Donald Gorski is a priest of the Diocese of Charleston. He ministers in Peru through the St. James Society.