I walked the Stations of the Cross on Good Friday with prisoners at one of the men’s prisons in Lima, Peru, where I work. In the procession the prisoners carried a heavy cross on their shoulders as they walked slowly in silence. As I walked along with them, under the hot sun, I realized each of us is carrying our own burdens. There is no need to remind the inmates to carry their own crosses, since they already do this every moment of every day.
It took three hours to get around the whole prison to finish the Stations of the Cross. As we returned to the chapel, the prisoners, covered with sweat and dust, stood in line awaiting their turn to kneel and kiss the feet of Jesus. When they got up, their eyes were wet with tears, and my heart was sad with grief. I cannot imagine the weight of the crosses that they are carrying alone.
Miyoung Sung, M.M.
A 36-year-old man named John Ahmed arrived at the U.N. Camp here in Malakal, South Sudan. He had been walking for several days from his village in search of medical treatment at the Doctors Without Borders hospital in our camp. A short distance from our gate, John collapsed. Passersby brought him to the hospital.
John went into a coma. Our community went and prayed for him. After seven days, John awoke and asked for moya, which in Arabic means “water.”
At Sunday Mass we prayed for John and members of the Church then went to the hospital to visit him. One of the doctors told me John’s awakening from a seven-day coma was truly a miracle. John continues to recover slowly as we give thanks to God for the gift of his life.
Michael Bassano, M.M.
My husband Erik and I were serving as Maryknoll lay missioners in the community of El Cedro in El Salvador. After a community meeting, Juana Guzman, the meal coordinator, asked if we could help with the children’s feeding program. Three times a week the program gave 98 needy children, ages 1 to 11, a simple lunch of beans, rice and perhaps some soy and greens to supplement their meager diets. The children’s moms took turns preparing the food. When it rained and they could not prepare the meals outside over the traditional cooking fires, the children did not eat.
After some discussion, the families agreed to provide the labor and we the materials to construct a small kitchen with a roof overhang. The kitchen is now operating in full swing.
Margo Cambier, MKLM
In Kenya in our Small Christian Community we have created an inculturated Mass following the order of the rite used in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Exchange of Peace takes place at the end of the Penitential Rite and before the Scripture readings. The goal is that the community will be reconciled and at peace with each other before hearing the Word of God. We wanted to use a genuine African sign of peace so we chose a symbol from both South Sudan and Sierra Leone (opposite sides of the African continent), that is, to place your right hand on the left shoulder of the other person and say, “Peace,” in your native language.
When I recently concelebrated Mass in Juba, South Sudan, at St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Cathedral, I was overjoyed by what I witnessed. During the offertory, young girls from different ethnic groups sang and danced a “Peace Prayer” during which they placed their right hand on the left shoulder of the other person. They give me hope that peace is possible in this war-torn land.
Joseph Healey, M.M.