By FATHER J. DONALD GORSKI
ZORRITOS, Peru – This mission parish of Zorritos has about 25,000 Catholics scattered through 35 widely separated pueblos, almost every pueblo with its own church. It is served by one priest and two sisters. A few months ago our parish produced its first religious sister, as a young woman took final vows.
The parish has never produced a priest, but it looks as though this will change. The Lord is doing something new and wonderful and we find ourselves sitting on a “vocation volcano.” The parish keeps spewing up new vocations.
Our parish now has five seminarians, four having entered during the past 15 months. Five more are due to enter the pre-seminary in August. Two of our young men are entering the religious life to become brothers. Several more say they want to enter the seminary as soon as they graduate from high school.
Many years ago I was one of 12 seminarians, all in the same parish: Sacred Heart in Charleston. By the end of this year, God willing, we shall have 12 young men in the seminary or religious life.
There was one young woman in our parish who entered the religious life this year; another was refused permission by her parents just as she was set to leave to enter a religious community. Several young women are seeing sisters regularly as part of their preparation to enter the convent. I believe they will soon numerically equal or surpass the number of young men pursuing priestly or religious vocations. There is a lot of interest.
For example, we recently had in our parish an all-day workshop presented by Redemptorist sisters and priests.
The theme was announced as, “Priestly and other Vocations to the Religious Life.” We were amazed when 151 young people signed up for the workshop, and we had to refuse admittance to many. We could not accommodate all who wanted to attend the retreat.
Those who were present at the workshop took part very actively and many are following up. Forty young women signed up for more information and for ongoing contact with the sisters. Every month we send about 15 to 20 young men to vocation workshops in seminaries in our capital, Piura, a 10-hour round trip from here.
I am a member of the St. James Society and our founder, Cardinal Cushing, told us many years ago, “I’m sending you down to Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador to work yourselves out of a job.” I believe this is happening in our parish. I tell all our young people that they can come back here as pastor and then push me around in my wheel chair.
As I often say, “Someone, somewhere, is praying for our parish and we are seeing the very visible results.” If you are that “someone,” please keep praying. Pray that the Lord bless, sustain and multiply these vocations. Pray that these young people persevere with their ideals intact.
Father J. Donald Gorski is a priest of the Diocese of Charleston who serves as a missionary in Peru.