Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:7)
These words of St Paul from our second reading this weekend remind us that we are in the “Love” part of our tripartite “Pray-Love-Celebrate” theme for St Philip’s 200th anniversary year. Paul’s description in that reading of love as “a more excellent way” also reminds us that, as I read once somewhere, “the Catholic Faith is a way of life, and the only thing that should dominate is love – love of God and of our neighbour.”
As part of that effort to show love and to bring love to others, each year, for the last 14 years, I have led a group of parishioners on a two-week mission trip to Peru. Our next mission trip begins on 7th February and continues onto 19th February. Eight of us from St Philip’s, St Clare’s and Lift Jesus Higher will be travelling at our own expense, and bringing a couple of suitcases each, containing shoes, clothes, toys, toiletries and bibles for distribution to the people of the three shanty communities we have been supporting for 14 years. This year, we will be bringing close to 60 people, children, youth and adults to Camps of Faith and Prayer (CFO) in Peru. CFO provide a safe, friendly environment, wherein the participants receive 3 meals a day (in itself a luxury for most of them), plus lots of good Christian teaching to provide them with a sound spiritual, moral basis for their lives, again something they do not receive normally, as there are not nearly enough priests or catechists to provide this. There are a number of activities arranged during the week also. The CFO experience is truly a life-changing experience for the participants, as, indeed, IS the chance to go on mission to Peru is also for those able to join us on mission.
We have a saying about the Peru mission: “Who is going on mission? – WE ALL ARE !!” Yes, even those who are not able, for one reason or another, to join us on one of these annual trips, are a part of the whole experience of mission, which is truly part of the New Evangelization, called for by our most recent popes. By your contributions, in money and other things, by your prayers, and sufferings offered up for us, you are part of the whole endeavour. The annual Peru fundraiser, which this year raised almost $4000, is a great example of that. All those who came, or bought tickets, or were part of the entertainment, or the meal, or the raffle, or helped sell tickets or helped with the set up and clean up, all of you can see your efforts as enabling these 60 people to experience something they normally would never have a chance to do.
Please keep us in prayer during these two weeks we are in Peru. And, on our return, we will hold a presentation to show you how your contribution has brought so much joy and hope to the poorest of the poor in Peru. On their behalf, I say to you: “MUCHAS GRACIAS” (THANK YOU VERY MUCH)!!