The work of the Lord goes on



Here in this mission parish the work of the Lord goes on — thanks to the prayer and help of so many people. We are grateful for this support and see the results daily.

I’m going to do something I’ve never before done — put most of a Sunday sermon in this letter. On July 8 of last year, I preached on the Gospel, which was Luke 10:1-12, 17-20. This is the first part of what I said, which I’m translating into English:

Today’s Gospel speaks of something you’ve seen, something that’s happening, can you recognize it? (In some of the villages and churches the people said, “That’s us, the Gospel is talking about us.”) Right on — that’s our parish. The harvest is abundant, more than 30 villages and churches. Some are more than four hours from here when the roads are passable, and in this enormous territory, there are more than 30,000 Catholics to serve. But there is only one nun, one seminarian, and one priest to serve all these people. With two lay people the pastoral team has only five people. Jesus said, “But the laborers are few.” Then the Lord gives a commandment that is a way to remedy the problem. What does Jesus command? (Answers) That’s right: “Ask the Lord of the harvest therefore to send workers into his harvest field.”

And look how you are responding to this command. You’ve passed entire nights in prayer vigils. For example a couple of months ago in more than 20 churches of the parish you spent the whole night praying during the vigil of Pentecost. There are so many prayer groups throughout this enormous parish. Every Monday night a large number of you gather at the grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes in front of the rectory to sing hymns and pray the rosary. Groups like “Uner” and others spend countless hours in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. In almost all the churches there is prayer and worship being offered every week on the Lord’s Day. We are building new churches in Nuevo Esperanza, Independencia, Plateritos del Campo, and Pueblo Nuevo as well as doubling the size of the churches in Punto Mero, Bocapan, Zorritos, and La Cruz, because there is no room for the people who want to pray. Many of you have taken part in the 14- week prayer workshops that are continuously offered.

And look how the Lord of the harvest has responded to so much prayer! There are six young men in the seminary with others ready to enter. Two young women are in preparation for the religious life. More than 100 of you have spent four weekends in the retreat house being trained as missionaries. A bus carries you down the coast every Saturday to evangelize 14 small villages. You give monthly, two-day missions in 15 mountain villages bringing the Eucharist to the faithful. You, with our teen-agers, are giving many workshops and retreats to teen-agers in our own parish and also in other cities and parishes. As you know this is just a small part of what the Lord is doing; there is a fire in the parish, and it’s spreading. It’s not just a human work; it’s the Lord’s work.

The Gospel says that the 72 disciples returned rejoicing after having evangelized the people. I’ve seen you do the same thing, exhausted but joyful. “The 72 returned rejoicing and said, ‘Lord, because of your name even the demons are subject to us.'” I went to conclude a six-day mission you gave in Plateritos de la Costa. After reconciliation, baptisms, and the Mass, the people gathered under a tree for a meal. Before eating, I spoke a few words to the people quoting the words of Jesus, “After hearing the report of the 72 disciples, Jesus said, ‘I have observed Satan fall like lightening from the sky. Behold, I have given you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions and the full power of the enemy and nothing will harm you.'”

I continued talking. The ocean was on my left, and I thought I saw out of the corner of my eye a ray of lightening falling from the sky to the ocean. It stunned me, but I didn’t say anything, just kept talking. This was a sunny day, blue sky with a few white clouds, no thunder, rain or storm. Later, privately, I asked Pancho if he saw what I saw. He told me he was so startled he asked his teen-age son if he saw it. All of us saw the same thing. Even now I can’t explain it or understand just what happened. Jesus had told the 72 disciples to proclaim, “The reign of God is near.” As the reign of God draws near, Satan’s kingdom begins to fall apart. I hope God’s reign in this parish is near and growing.

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus, may the Lord’s reign fill your life and that of your loved ones. We here are very grateful for your prayer and/or economic support. It enables the parish to feed a daily hot meal to more than 2,000 children and elderly in our parish soup kitchens; provide more than 150 bags of food weekly as payment for work; help our 26 parish councils provide operations and desperately needed medical help to indigent people, thus saving many lives; provide the first-ever dental treatments to 2,000 children and many adults; provide a very low-cost pharmacy in the parish; assist more than 20 parishioners in their ministry to 400 prisoners; provide more than 30 wheelchairs to children and adults as well as dozens of coffins, etc., etc. All this is not to mention the hundreds and hundreds of people for whom you provide workshops, seminars, classes, courses, retreats, and missions. What can we say but “thank you” and thank God who inspires you generosity and prayer. What can we do but pray for you asking that God’s kingdom come ever more fully into your life.

Msgr. Donald Gorski, a priest of the Diocese of Charleston, ministers to the people of Zorritos, Peru.