Funeral services here last three days. The body is put on display for two days and then is buried on the third. We had the wake in Puente Alto, the poor parish where we worked together. The church was filled all three days, with standing room only. He has one sister, who made it down and was touched by the turnout and the love that the people felt for her brother. She decided to have the body cremated and bring his remains home with her to the US. Once she saw all the emotion at the funeral though, she had second thoughts. She now understood that Fr. Mike had much more family than she knew about. We'll miss you, friend.
April 27, 2009
Sadly, our friend and coworker Fr. Mike died just hours after we posted the last entry asking for prayers. It all went so fast that we're just now processing all that has happened during the past week. After about a week in the hospital, the doctors told him that he had liver cancer. The cancer was also causing lots of blood clots. One of those clots killed him just 3 days later while he slept. We went in to visit him in the hospital on Thursday, the day before he found out his diagnoses. None of us had any idea it was so serious. He had obviously lost weight and had difficulty breathing, but other than that was the same old Mike. He joked, had us sneak him extra water behind the nurses' backs and complained that there was nothing good on television. We told him how big Joshua was getting - the hospital wouldn't allow us to bring the baby in for a visit. We made plans to get together once he was better and get caught up.
April 21, 2009
A dear friend of ours is very sick. His name is Fr. Mike Cody and he's a Columban priest originally from Boston. We formed a close bond during our formation period back in Chicago, as he was the coordinator of the Lay Mission Program in the US at the time. Our friendship grew when he soon after was assigned to work in Chile in the same parish as us. Please keep him and his family in your prayers. The picture below was taken of our house mates, before David and I left for Chile in 2004. Fr. Mike is the second from the top left.
April 13, 2009
Holy week is a very special time of year for all Christians, but in Latin America, they have an extra special way of celebrating. In Chile, each step along the way of Jesus' last days, his death and resurrection is re-created. Special care is taken in order to connect His experience to the realities of the world today and emotions run deep, as the people feel a true connection to His pain and thankfulness that they are not alone in their own suffering. Here are a few images of Holy Week in our humble, yet vibrant community:
We started the week with a half an hour procession on Palm Sunday. Our chapel joined with a neighboring chapel in order to celebrate in community.
Children, adults and "abuelitos" (grandparents) braved the "Hill of Death," a VERY steep hill that leaves even the most fit without breath. Joshua is in the green baby carriage, being pushed by a 10 year old boy that insisted on pushing him around the entire walk.
On Holy Thursday, the entire community was invited to take part in the washing of the feet ceremony, symbolizing the call to be humble servants to our brothers and sisters. There is a drug rehab center in our neighborhood and the people who are in treatment often participate in our community. It was very touching to see them rise, have their feet washed and to then see them kneel before a peer and offer the same. Many ended the ritual in tears and hugs.
We followed the Passion of Jesus at stations set up around the neighborhood. 14 different families volunteered to set up an altar and to represent each Station of the Cross. The families see this as a great honor and an opportunity to give thanks to God for the blessings they have received. It reminded us of the rich faith of our neighbors, despite the material poverty in which they live.
They adorned their altars with the materials at hand. This woman didn't have flowers, so she used feather dusters and Christmas garland to praise God.
The Stations of the Cross lasted 3 hours. The man on crutches walked the entire way, without resting. The feeling of the people is that if Christ sacrificed so much to save us from our sins, then we should also make sacrifices in life.
These two boys joined in the procession as well. They had one pair of skates and four feet. So, instead of one using the skates and the other walking, they each used one skate and one shoe, pushing off with the shoed foot and gliding on the skated foot. Good friends share.
Holy Saturday's Easter Vigil was a great event, but unfortunately, we forgot our camera! So, this is Easter morning. The tradition here is to hide chocolate eggs for the kids to find in the morning. So, the teenagers in the chapel showed up bright and early to hide the eggs for the younger children. After the egg hunt, they stayed around the chapel to play ping pong and soccer before mass at noon.