By MSGR. J. DONALD GORSKI
That part of the Lord’s prayer has a special meaning here in Peru. If a Peruvian asks the blessing before a meal, almost invariably they will pray for those who lack their daily bread. We’re surrounded by such people. We’ve made an effort here to help supply this daily bread to those who lack it.
How would you like to open your door every morning at 7 a.m. to see a long line of hungry men, women and children? That’s now our experience — seven days a week.
Sometimes there are 150 people. Today there were 334 people; sometimes there are 500. The end of the line sometimes disappears from sight behind our church and the town council building.
The whole thing started so innocently. We told the men who drag nets for larvae not to be knocking on the garage door all morning for bread and bananas, but to all come at the same time: 7 a.m.
Word got out. A few people joined them — a few hundred. And now it’s become a major ministry. We give each person two substantial bread rolls and six bananas.
The latter are cheap, tasty, very filling and nutritious. There are close to a hundred bananas in a box for about $2.20. Today my sister ordered 60 boxes — that’s close to 6,000 bananas. We’re the Saudi Arabia of bread and bananas!
If there are any people in this parish suffering from hunger and malnutrition, it’s not my sister’s fault. She — Sister Caritas — has taken over the food ministry with a vengeance.
We now spend about $2,000 weekly on food alone. She has well over 2,000 people eating daily cooked meals in our 30 parish soup kitchens, which are spread out in many different towns and villages. The kitchens serve almost all children and elderly.
The whole thing amazes me. It must be the Lord doing this.
We begin our morning food distribution with a prayer or Scripture. This morning I prayed with the people for those who provide this food. We get no help from the government. I told our people today that most of our donors are not wealthy, but like themselves struggling, but with a desire to share and help those in need.
These people can’t thank you directly. I can and do. In their name I thank all those who are feeding the hungry. You’re really feeding Christ.
We have the Lord present in the Eucharist in a little rectory chapel. This morning I left the Lord present in the Blessed Sacrament, walked down the stairs, opened the door and met that same Lord present in that long line of hungry men, women and children.
What a privilege to be able to meet and serve Jesus in his poor and hungry! I’m grateful to the Diocese of Charleston for allowing me to be here and for the incredible prayers and support of so many people.
People have told me they feel that I’m representing them here in the missions. I very much feel the same way. We’re all members of the same Christ, and he is inspiring all of us to help and support each other.
I see this happening every day. A mother, after receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, told me: “I’m so grateful I don’t have to send my children off to school with no breakfast. The bread and bananas are a life saver. Thanks.”
Msgr. Gorski is a priest of the Diocese of Charleston who ministers to the people of Zorritos, Peru, through the St. James Society.
HOW TO HELP:
To contribute materially to this mission, checks may be made out to the St. James Society and sent to: Msgr. Robert Kelly — Missions: P.O. Box 1257, Folly Beach, SC 29439. The Society of St. James will forward the checks through their banking account in Peru, avoiding the Peruvian Post Office. Only one thank-you acknowledgment will be sent to contributors, and it will come directly from Peru.