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ACN Project of the Week – Peru

A vehicle for a parish in the Andes

The Diocese of Huancavelica is one of the poorest in Peru and is situated at an altitude of around 4000 m (13,000 feet) in the Andes Mountains. It has 28 parishes, ministered to by 49 priests.

The parish of Acobamba includes over 90 villages. Roughly half of the population of a little over 10,000 people are Catholics. They live in widely scattered communities, and it is difficult for the parish’s two priests to reach them in order to minister to them. Nearly all access is via unmarked dirt roads which, in poor weather conditions and at this altitude, proves very challenging. During the rainy season, many of the tracks are almost impassable. Deep gullies, ruts and stones make many of the journeys difficult and dangerous, and there is no form of public transport either. Father Guido Molina Letona and his assistant priest do have a vehicle, but it is over 12 years old and so worn out by the difficult conditions that it is no longer usable. As a result, the two priests will sometimes hitch a ride on vehicles transporting local goods or even travel on foot to visit the communities.

For many people, the understanding and practice of their faith had long fallen short. Nonetheless, the two priests somehow managed to visit every village once a month, celebrating Holy Mass, administering the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, and preparing people to receive the other sacraments. This close pastoral care is now bearing fruit, as more and more Catholics are returning to the practice of their faith and to the sacraments. At present, around 200 of the town’s faithful attend Sunday Mass, while an average of around 150 people attend religious instruction in preparation for the sacraments of Baptism, Holy Communion and Confirmation. 

A robust all-terrain vehicle would help with ministering to the Catholic faithful more intensively. Likewise, the precious time and energy these priests would save could be redirected towards their pastoral ministry. We have promised a sum of $34,305 towards the purchase of this much-needed vehicle.

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