In Nuevo San Juan, a town in the Peruvian Amazon, an exciting event was held on October 12, 13 and 15 to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the arrival of the sisters in Peru. This special celebration was held as a way of giving thanks and sharing the essence of living Jesus’ way. Sister María José Gimeno, tells us how she experienced these days in the Amazon:
On this anniversary we had the opportunity to talk about St. Joaquina and make her known to young and old, especially to the Christian Community.
With the young people of the High School in our town, we met to present a video about the life of Joaquina which they watched with great attention and it was interesting to hear their comments in response to the questions of a small group work: They liked to see Joaquina always ready to help to do good, and also expressed that, like Joaquina, the sisters here in San Juan take care of us and advise us, they are concerned about the people of our villages, especially the native communities, etc.
On October 13, the day after the meeting with the young people, the call was extended to all, adults and children, who wished to participate.
The chapel was filled with children and adults and we continued to enjoy their interest in getting to know Joaquina, their comments on what is it that strikes them about the life of the sisters in San Juan, how they have come here from so far away: The Congo, Chile, Spain, Peru, how they now see the sisters ….
And at the end of the meeting we could not miss the joy of a small sharing with everyone, according to the custom of our people.
On Sunday, the 15th, as an extraordinary event, a priest came to celebrate the Eucharist.
It was a very beautiful celebration, participated, joyful, close, where the chants “Vedruna we go with you, we need people like you …” resounded strongly.
We were accompanied by the town authorities, a small group of people from a neighboring town accompanied by the leader of their Christian community, the Fe y Alegría team from Pucallpa, a group of Shipibo children and teachers from the Fe y Alegría school in the nearby native community called Santa Isabel de Bahuanisho and, of course, many children and adults from our village.
The priest invited the people to express what they thought of the presence of the Congregation in Peru and in San Juan and that gave rise to some people to remember that, at that time, 24 years ago, they could not imagine that some sisters would come to live in their town, they recalled the work done during all these years visiting and accompanying so many villages and native communities in the area where we live.
And to share, besides the cake, candies, yogurt… a special drink, typical from here, made with corn, peanuts and milk called “upe”, which tastes great.
After the celebration in the chapel we all moved to the center of the square where the Shipibo children in their traditional costumes gave us a dance, a song created specifically for the occasion and then invited everyone who wanted to join them to dance.
It was a day lived with joy, with thanksgiving, and with the desire that our presence here may always be a reason for union, solidarity and, above all, the presence of Jesus and his Gospel.
Sr. María José Gimeno, CCV