Cuzco's Children

Celebrating the Feast Day of St. Columban

Fr. Youngln Kim

Editor’s Note: On Monday, November, 23, 2015, Columban Fr. YoungIn Kim celebrated the Feast Day of St. Columban in Cuzco, Peru. He described the experience in the article below.

I have just came back from celebrating thirteen Masses in various distant communities, most of which are a three or four hours’ drive from the main church here in Yanaoca. I was on the road every day during this past week, traveling from village to village to celebrate these Masses because another Columban priest, Fr. Paul Prendergast (who is over 80 years of age), and I are responsible for the pastoral care of 130 communities. Jesus’ words to His followers, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few” are indeed very clear to both Fr. Paul and me, as well as to the people of this province.

During this past week, the farmers whom I met in every village are eagerly waiting for the rainy season so that they can begin cultivating their fields. They are also hoping that, with the harsh cold weather behind them, the rainy season will be kind to the lamas, sheep, alpacas and cows. My principal purpose in writing, however, is to thank you and all Columban benefactors most sincerely for your generous donations to a new children’s project here in Yanaoca.

Since the vast majority of the people here are extremely poor, the children did not have any activities that they could enjoy after school or during weekends. Moreover, there was no public place for them to come together to play and enjoy recreation.

For that reason, in March of this year, at the Columban parish here in Yanaoco, we opened a Children’s Home, which is called CHISPITA.

The name CHISPITA has a long history for people here. Approximately thirty years ago some religious Sisters initiated a pastoral outreach program to children, which they called CHISPITA –the name of a popular children’s soap opera in Spanish at that time – so it remains a name that evokes many happy memories.

Thanks to the recent revival of CHISPITA, twice a week for two hours every Friday and two hours every Sunday, four young adults (three university students and one other) supervise a recreational program for the children of the surrounding area.

And thanks to these young leaders, around 50 children, between the age of 5 and 11 years old, can come together now on a regular basis to enjoy various activities and play games. Your generous donations help us facilitate this program, in particular to buy various materials for arts and crafts, as well as educational games and toys, which these children’s parents would never be able to provide.

It is a joy to see the faces of these poor children light up with spontaneity and excitement as they play together in a safe, warm place. Naturally, their parents are also delighted with the blessing CHISPITA brings to this impoverished community.

On behalf of those parents and their families, thank you so much for your thoughtfulness and generous gifts.

Columban Fr. YoungIn Kim lives and works in Peru.

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