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Go on a Mission

You must come yourselves.

Giving can never mean primarily giving money, that goes without saying.  Of course money is also often most necessary.  But when money is the only thing that is given, that is often hurtful for the other person. I have seen that again and again in the Third World. If you send us nothing but money, people tell me, then you often do more harm than good. Money is very easily misused in some way and then makes things worse. You must give more than this. You must come yourselves; you must give of yourselves; and you must help, so that the material gifts you bring are used appropriately.
—Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI)
God and the World, Ignatius Press, pp. 194-195, 2002

For 10 years parish groups, individuals, and families have gone to Santísimo Sacramento to share in the daily work for the poor and to also experience the heroic faith of the people there. Everyday there is something valuable to do for someone who has very basic needs. Sixty-three percent of Piuranos live in poverty and 22 percent live in extreme poverty (lacking their daily bread).

The large parish staff is skilled in carpentry, social work, brick laying, etc. and, aided by pastoral workers throughout the parish, enable visitors to do the work and significantly contribute to the well being of the most needy. 

The parish provides lodging in a 13-bedroom facility capable of sleeping over 40 people. 

There is also a village retreat house that has 100 beds. To defray the cost of water, gas, and electricity, a $10 per week donation is suggested. The food in Piura is very good and inexpensive. A broiled chicken dinner with fries, salad and soda for four costs less than $10. 

Here are some things to do while on mission

  • Pray: there are daily prayer groups in the chapels, daily Eucharist with the people, weddings, baptisms, and eucharistic adoration
  • Build a home, chapel, schoolroom. Homes are built from bamboo support poles and walls of grass mats.
  • Deliver food packages, beds and blankets, clothing
  • Gather children for activities and crafts, families for a picnic
  • Heal while working with the parish health team, a medical or eye mission, speech therapy, wellness education.
  • Visit the elderly, the orphanage, your adopted family, the sick, families still unknown, a village at night, a bamboo home for a night’s sleep
  • Play at fiestas, traditional dances, soccer, volleyball
  • Teach English to the parish English group, at a local school, or teach other useful skills
  • Help the parish lawyer, or at the drug rehab program
  • Invite youth to the movies, a group to the ocean
  • Serve at the breakfast kitchens, or through projects yet to be discovered
  • Spend time with your sponsored family
Various mission trips take place each year: individuals, couples, families, youth groups, medical/dental teams (doctors, nurses, workers), and construction teams requiring little skills.

The parish is spread out and has many neighborhoods and villages, which are visited daily. Visitors often go to the Pacific Ocean, an hour away. But, the spirit of the mission groups is to share in the work and pray with the people. Those who stay at the parish do not do a lot of traveling around on their own away from the city, but staff members make excellent guides for exploring the city and neighborhoods of Piura.

Of the perhaps 1,000 missionaries who have gone to the parish, no one has returned to the U.S.A. with malaria or any problems acquired there. Diarrhea is not common; it occurs in some and not in others. 

Flying to Piura from Lima is recommended. There is a morning and an evening flight each day. Most groups come for one or two weeks. Individuals come for months and rent an apartment. Parish groups visit Piura June through August. Most of the parish staff is either away or on vacation from mid-August to mid-September.

Experience the face of Christ in the many people you will meet.

For more information, contact Marka Acton.