III Holy Week Encounter in the Parish of Loreto, Guayaquil (Ecuador), April 2-5, 2015.
On Holy Thursday we went by bus from the parish of Loreto to the Cathedral to attend the morning Chrism Mass. On the way back, everyone went back home to eat. The encounter began at 3:30 p.m. in the church hall, with an explanation of how the encounters work. There were 50 people present at this time, but, as time progressed, the hall continued to fill up. So by the time we had the first talk on St. Teresa, given by Brother Peter, we were about 80 people and 90% were young people. It was really nice to see that almost the entire room was full of young people who wanted to participate in the Holy Week Encounter with the Home of the Mother.
Here, in Guayaquil, we have the sort of Holy Week Encounter in which we hold the activities during the day in the parish and then people go back to their homes for dinner and for sleeping. But this Holy Thursday, we made a list of the people who wanted to accompany the Lord taking turns during the night and in this way, after celebrating the Lord's Supper, we started adoration in the monument that had been prepared, very elegantly, by the sacristan ladies. Throughout the night there were adorers and also individuals who offered to monitor the door to avoid anything bad from happening. The fact that we have to mention is that people here are very generous, because during the whole afternoon the rain was pouring down (during the rainy season in Ecuador, it is a real deluge in which the streets become like rivers) and we were concerned that people would not be able to show up when it was their turn for adoration. But, thanks be to God, the rain stopped in the middle of the night.
It seemed that the Lord wanted to be accompanied and made it work for people to be able to go to the activities, and something similar happened with the Way of the Cross on Friday. It began at 6:30 in the afternoon, and we walked around the whole area that encompasses the parish. The 14 stations were placed through the streets and the procession traveled the whole way. This Way of the Cross is well attended by a lot of people. It lasted two and a half hours. At the end, Fr. José Javier gave us the blessing in order to gain an indulgence. Five minutes after getting back from the event, the deluge started with lightning, thunder, and all that one can imagine. Truly, the Lord wanted us to accompany Him in this Way of the Cross.
On Friday the number of people increased, because the adults were working on Thursday, but Friday was a holiday. For this reason, most of them were not there the first day. But on Friday, we hardly fit in the hall, because there were around 120 people. The talks on St. Theresa of Avila helped many of them, because she was not well known here.
On Saturday, the rain was not forgiving and the deluge began at about 7 p.m. At the time of the Easter Vigil, everything was flooded again and the rain did not stop from falling. To make matters worse, we lost power. This was very evident in the mass attendance, but even so there were no shortage of brave people who decided to leave their homes, come what may, so as not to miss the Easter Vigil and, although they arrived soaked, some even without shoes, because they had lost them along the way, since the streets turned into rushing rivers, they were happy to have been able to take part in this very important celebration. We had the grace of being able to celebrate the baptism of a young man 19 years old, his first communion and confirmation, as well as the first communion of a young woman who had been hoping for that moment to arrive.
Given the circumstances, we decided to have the famous Easter Festival on Sunday after lunch, so we did. On Sunday we celebrated the Resurrection of the Lord with all the bells and whistles since we had already started the celebration at the Vigil. Afterwards, we had the final assembly with many testimonies of joy and also hopefully of conversion. Many thanks to all for your participation and help.