Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Lord of the Dance

Dancers in costumes of recycled materials

 I arrived home from Peru, tired but full of joy and gratitude.  I was intending to begin with a description of various aspects of the Unbound program in Peru and I will be doing that in my next entry.  However, as I brought this experience to prayer and reflection another aspect of this trip, a very important one, emerged for me. You see, I encountered the Lord there. He danced with me.

  One of my favorite hymns come from a 19th century Shaker community, the Lord of the Dance.  Each line of the hymn basically says that Jesus danced with us at each stage of  His life.  The chorus, however, goes beyond that. It says:

    Dance then, wherever you me be.  I am the Lord of the dance said He.  I'll lead you all, wherever you may be.  I am the Lord of the Dance, said He.

   The trip to Peru as one of Unbound's awareness trips.  It is not called a mission trip because the focus is on becoming aware of not only the work of Unbound, but also the realities of the countries we visit.  While in Lima I became very much aware of the work of Unbound and why certain things were done.  I also was struck by the poverty there as well as the contrast of the poorer neighborhoods with the wealthier ones.

   Upon returning home I became more aware of the Lord's presence in all of that.  Twice during the week we were treated to presentations of native folk dances.  At the end of those presentations the dancers came and picked out one of us sponsors to dance with them.  Yes, then, the Lord of the Dance
was drawing me in.

 On Thursday of our visit those of us in the group who were sponsoring children in Peru got to meet them.  To say the least it was a great joy to meet 13 year old Anthony whom I sponsor as well as his mother and his 5 year old brother. While I had brought a few small gifts for Anthony I was touched by the fact that his family had a gift for me, a knitted lion that his mother made.  It is a small thing but it expressed so well the love that they had for me.  I encountered the Lord in that as well.
Special needs young woman who chose me to dance with her

  So, as I think back on that week I am so grateful that the Lord of the dance called on me during that wonderful time.

Member of our group called to dance

With Anthony and the special "Lion"

Friday, August 9, 2019

Sponsored Elders an Special Needs

On this final day of our journey we met with a gathering of  sponsored elders and special needs people. It was truly a joyful time, one of being overwhelmed by their love and appreciation. After that it was off for a nice lunch and on to a hotel near the airport

Special need group performing

Elders with  typical fold dance

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Meeting My Sponsored Friend

Today was the highlight of the trip, meeting our sponsored friends. Pictures say it all
With Anthony, what a joy to meet him

Anthony, his mother and little brother 
Sponsored Friends and families waving goodbye 

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Wonderful Mother’s of Unbound Kids

Today we again broke up into three groups to attend a meeting of Unbound mothers.  They make decisions as to how the sponsorship money is doesn’t and also decide on other activities to earn more money for their families.  We also did some sightseeing including the Lima Cathedral, one of the oldest churches in the Americas More details next week.

Sponsors with mothers

Mothers getting down to business
Lima Cathedral 

Outside the Cathedral 

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Visiting Unbound Sponsored Family

we had a great time today, split into 3 groups, visiting sponsors friends homes.
Did some sight seeing in the afternoon

Our group outside home of sponsored friends 

Warmly received in welcoming home

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Monday, August 5, 2019

Let the Children Come to Me

We had a great day today visiting a community and seeing some sponsored kids engaged in educational activities, doing crafts from recycled materials and gardening vegetables.  It was a great time and the kids were wonderful.  Again a few pictures, more whe I return home.

Planting in the garden

Like I was back in kindergarten—loving it

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A Wonderful Unbound Community

Yesterday was a long. Day and I didn’t get to post on this blog.  What I will attempt for the feast of the week is to give a brief summary of each day and write a lengthier post next week when I am back from in the states.

We visited Huaycan where there are over 1000 sponsored friends.  We stopped at the Unbound office there and were treated royally by sponsored friends with a great greeting, an exhibition of some of the projects there including a show demonstration f their work with recycling  and the environment, They also performed several typical folk dances.

Here are a few pictures, more next week

Saturday, August 3, 2019

The Journey begins in Peru

No promises to do this everyday but I will try, busy schedule and weak internet,
We arrived this’s morning and are getting acclimated,
Our program begin in earnest tomorrow as we will visit different areas where Unbound is working at giving people a hand up, not a hand out.There a several. Interesting initiatives among the sponsored people.

 The pictures below show St. Francis Solanus Retreat Center and some of the nearby homes standing precariously (I think) on hillsides.
St. Francis Solanus Retreat Center

Thursday, August 1, 2019

A New Direction

   As I write I imagine that some of my regular blog readers have thought that my blogging days are over.  They almost were.  I was running out of gas, new thoughts and ideas. Also, I wanted to avoid the vitriol afflicting our society and passing over the internet.

  I have decided, for the time being at least, to use this blog to offer folks a glimpse into my life and ministry.

   For almost thirty-two years I have been an itinerant preacher, preaching over 500 parish missions, several retreats for priests and religious and a number of days of prayer and recollection. For the past 3 years I have preached weekend campaigns for Unbound, a wonderful Catholic charitable organization that invites people to sponsor children and elders in various poor countries. Every one of these events had given me the opportunity to meet some interesting people and more importantly to experience God's action in many lives.

   Since I last wrote on this blog I have been in Florida, Utah, Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, North and South Carolina, Hawaii, Texas and North Dakota.  There are interesting people everywhere. I have been with priests from Vietnam and Zambia as well as several Latin American countries.  I have met 2 beekeepers and one wine maker.  Also, and most importantly I have had a glimpse into the life of the Church.  If one takes the image of the Church given by the media we are dying and ridden by scandal.  I don't want to minimize the impact of the sex abuse scandal.  It is real. It has driven people away, but I am also meeting many folks who say that their faith is becoming stronger because the scandals have caused them to go deeper in their living of the faith. 

   Another point that I would make strongly is that we are an immigrant and diverse Church.  There are few "nones" (those who believe in God but have no Church affiliation) among the Latino, Filipino, Vietnamese populations, to mention the most predominant immigrant groups. There are young families and children in these groups and they are the future of the Catholic Church in America, just as Irish, Italian, Polish and German immigrants were in previous generations.

   Unfortunately most people, including practicing Catholics, associate Church with clergy. The Laity my friends are the Church too and these days I think they are the strength of the Church.

   All of the above are my own impressions, not based on any formal sociological study, but I believe them to be true.

   I have mentioned Unbound in this article and in previous ones.  I will see more about my experience with them in the future.  In fact, the next time I write will be next week from Peru where I will be on an Unbound awareness trip which will include meeting with Anthony, a young man that I am sponsoring.

Moving Out and Moving Ahead Cautiosly