August 27, 2009

Our Mercy Balcony in Bolivia

"Hearing of a Christ who is ours, the people becomes ours… and Christ invites us to accompany them. This Christ is the all-embracing Christ; he invites us to be with him, that he, through us, may be with them."

Mercy and Maryknoll combine here in Sister Daisy Vargas and me. Here in Villa Rivero, a small pueblo in the countryside outside the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia,.

Invited by our bishop 8 years ago to be a “religious presence” in a town recovering from a number of clergy scandals, our job description read 'classes of religion to high schoolers and little ones in 9 surrounding 2-room schools, classes for sacrament prep for kids and adults, and other pieces that come with faith sharing with adults and kids in a rural parish setting.'

Weekend classes for sacrament preparation initially shocked this population, as before us one or no class was required. Thus any incentive we have been able to imagine we have experimented with, treats in classes and prizes for attendance at the end of each month.

The informal activities were where we most wanted to be and where we come into the close contact we wanted with the families. Our daily amazement is that the love of this accompaniment is enough to invite us to continue... We want to keep a focus on what the people of the church need us to be with them.

Politically, Bolivians are in a time of chaos and confusion in which we ask you to be with us asking the joy of “living in the mercy of God”. Now walking anywhere in town tells us that we are accomplishing what we set out to do as we meet so many people we know.

Often and with gratitude our choices are helped by Mercy’s question / byline: “how will this decision and action affect persons who are poor, oppressed and marginalised, especially the women and children.”

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