All necessary maintenance done and the new pickup is on the road. The ride is rough, like my pretty green chevy was, so I feel at home in her (her name is “Dolly”). I’ll use her to show our Superior General, Fr. Greg Gay, around the territory. He’s coming for a visit here April 9-15. I’ll go slowly over the bumps for his sake!

Saturday, I visited Ñiñirapi for a second time, to visit the sick. I had visited the previous week to help re-found the community there. I’ll make regular visits to this community for a while, and help select catechists and accompany them in their ministry until they can lead on their own.

Sunday, I was at Wilacala for Mass and catechesis. Wilacala is where we’re building the new church, and it will become the center of our formation efforts in some of the Altiplano (high altitude) communities. We’re awaiting funds from a foundation to continue the work. But we have windows, a door and a strong roof, and that serves us well for now. There are about 12 communities within three hours walk of Wilalcala, so the catechists come for market day on Friday. I’ll have a regular schedule of catechist formation the last week of every month, each day corresponding to a community market day: Pacobamba on Wednesday, Umanata on Thursday, and Wilacala on Friday. I’ll probably stay the intervening nights in Umanata. Diego will handle the catechist formation for the valley communities in Mocomoco on our market day: Sunday.

The Vincentians administered the parish of Umanata for years, but returned it to the bishop in June of last year, for reasons I need not go into here. All of the members of our pastoral team (Mocomoco and Italaque, Vincentians and laity) are in agreement that we can serve there again, using our new pastoral model as the “Altiplano Mission” rather than the old model of “parish.” As a “mission,” we take joint responsibility for all the communities in our region (about 100), sharing personnel to achieve the goals of the Diocesan Pastoral Plan. We’ll ask for Greg’s permission to assume this responsibility when he’s here.

Another great thing: Diego visited one of our valley communities a little while ago called Ingas. He discovered a community, under-served by its catechist, starving for the word of God. We now visit every Friday for a catechetical gathering with about 70 children, youth, and adults. We’ve decided that sometimes it’s best to accompany a community on more regular basis to strengthen the church in that location. We wonder what other communities we’ll discover in this state as we reconnect with some of the rarely or never visited places. Thanks for your prayers, and please, don’t forget to donate.