Before Fr. Basil Moreau was beatified and Br. André Bessette canonized, and after Fr. Patrick Peyton was declared Servant of God, Fr. Hugh Cleary, C.S.C., then Superior General of the Congregation of Holy Cross, was asked how he would describe the Congregation of Holy Cross’ “brand”? He responded by using these three men – well along the road to canonization – as the standard bearers of the Holy Cross brand: teaching, healing and prayer. He described Fr. Moreau as a dedicated teacher, Br. André a healer, and Fr. Peyton a promoter of prayer.
If you want to find that three-fold brand in Holy Cross Perú, you only need to visit the El Señor de la Esperanza Parish Center in the heart of our mission among some of the country’s poorest. However, other than parachuting into the space, the only way to get there is to nearly elbow your way through the crowded, noisy, chaotic central market filled with the scent of recently plucked and butchered chickens.
As you near the parish center – and if you can take your eyes off of where you’re stepping for a second – you can look up to see the striking brick bell tower that rises high above the commotion below, and you enter a space where you begin to see the beauty of what architectural design and engineering genius have managed to squeeze into close quarters.
Just to the left of the entrance gate you find the multi-service Brother André Clinic with its impeccably clean tile floor and walls, state of the art medical equipment, exam rooms, laboratories, doctor offices, and medical personnel on the move, dressed in an array of pastel colored uniforms. And beyond the clinic is the entrance to Yancana Huasy, a center where people with handicaps and their families are served professionally and pastorally. Saint André would be blushingly proud of what he started.
Turning to the right, you find a spacious new auditorium and two floors of classrooms in constant use. These installations serve, among many other things, as the campus for the Parishes Pastoral Leadership School where minds and hearts are prepared for service to the Church in the best pedagogical tradition of Blessed Basil Moreau.
And in the center of this unique two-story complex is a beautiful chapel dedicated to the Latin American Martyrs. The two floors of medical facilities on the left and the educational installations on the right overlook and open onto the central space which now serves as the location for neighbors to pray and the site for liturgical celebrations for the whole parish. There the community of believers that gathers to pray together, renews its commitment to stay together – united in their service to one another in the Lord.
Finally, by the time you get all the way to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel to the right of the sanctuary you no longer hear the din of the market. Rather, you feel the comforting silence where hardly an hour passes from morning to night without someone (patients and doctors, teachers and students, visitors and neighbors) praying before the Blessed Sacrament, the crucifix on the wall and the recently sculptured statues of Our Lady of Sorrows and Saint André Bessette.
Visitors to this Holy Cross Perú icon of teaching, healing and prayer don’t walk out the same as they entered. They leave refreshed in mind, body and soul and return to the reality of their daily lives carrying back the gift hope renewed.
Fr. Don Fetters, C.S.C., is a member of the District of Perú, one of several foreign missions overseen by the United States Province. He is a monthly contributor to the Spes Unica blog reflecting on the work of Holy Cross in the missions. Learn more about the missionary work of Holy Cross priests and brothers to extend the Good News of Jesus Christ across “borders of every sort,” including Perú.