About two or three years ago the sisters started thinking about where we could go on a pilgrimage with the girls. We had already gone to several places in Ecuador. We providentially saw the movie about St. Martin of Porres and thought: Why not go to Peru?
The idea was there but for different reasons it has not become a reality until now. Around 3 months ago while speaking and thinking about where we could go on a pilgrimage, we remembered Peru! And so little by little we started fundraisers because it was going to be a little expensive. At first we thought to go by plane but, seeing the excessive prices, we decided to go by bus. The last three months have been a very intense time of activities and preparation. Three weeks before we left, the sisters suggested that we have a daily commitment or resolution to prepare ourselves well, based above all on humility, the main virtue of St. Martin of Porres and St. Rose of Lima. Some girls prepared the information about the saints we were going to visit; others prepared games and jokes, among other things.
The day finally arrived, September 15, the day of Our Lady of Sorrows. We began with Mass celebrated by a servant priest in the chapel in Playa Prieta. In his homily he gave us our goal for the pilgrimage: to console the heart of the Virgin Mary. We began by placing the pilgrimage in the hands of the Lord and our Mother.
At 10 o'clock the bus arrived; we got in and began our journey, about 40 hours to reach Lima, our destination. 40 hours that went by very quickly, because we were actually in a “get together” of sorts but on wheels, with time for prayer, watching movies, eating, formation, singing, sleeping, etc.
We made a stop in Chiclayo, a city of Peru, where in 1649 Baby Jesus appeared in the Eucharist, and hundreds of people saw this Eucharistic miracle. It a very poor village and Jesus wanted to go there, not looking for wealth. For some of the girls stopping there was a grace and a call to their conscience, because 'God reveals Himself to the simple.'
We arrived in Lima and rested a little. On the first day there we went to the convent of St. Dominic, where San Martin of Porres lived from the age of 15, and where his relics are conserved. They are next to those of St. Rose of Lima and St. John Macias, a Spanish Dominican, who did all his work of evangelization in Lima.
In the afternoon we went to the Park of the Reserve, a beautiful place, which speaks to us of the wonders that God has done and how man is able to use his intelligence to collaborate with the beauty created by God has created.
We met some lovely sisters and we shared a pleasant moment talking and singing with them. We then went home to rest. The next day we went to the cathedral of Lima, because another saint we were going to visit was Saint Toribio of Mogrovejo. He was Spanish and the second bishop of Lima; the guide explained very well both the history of colonization and the life of this saint, who died evangelizing in a small village in Peru.
We also went to the ‘Park of the Legends’, similar to a zoo, with countless animals from fish to giraffes; the variety that God has created is endless. We would like to take the opportunity to infinitely thank the aunts of Sr. Kelly, SHM, who were always looking after our needs and helped us a lot while we were there those days. One of her aunts is a religious sister and we could not leave without going to say hello to her community, the Servants of St. Joseph, an older community but in love with God, with their vocation. Many of the girls were impressed with them because of their joy, their self-giving, and the visible love among them. We now have a whole community praying for us.
On the last day in Lima, we had the grace of hearing Mass in the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary, where St. Martin and St. Rose prayed and where their skulls rest. Afterwards we were able to go to the houses where both saints were born, one across from the other. It was all a grace and these words fall short to convey everything we lived. Another saint of whom we spoke was Francisco Solano, another Spanish religious missionary, who lived and did missions in Peru. For reasons beyond our control we could not see his relics. After these days and all that we have seen and learned, it is necessary to emphasize the great work of evangelization of the Spanish in Peru and throughout America. Colonization took place between the light and shadows, but the good they brought to our people was greater than the evil done. They brought us both the Faith and human dignity, which were not valued before. We learned about a few saints who completely gave of themselves in these lands, but there are many who are not yet known or will never be known. Perhaps they died in the middle of the jungle or bitten by an insect, missionaries that gave of themselves without caring about anything except bringing Christ to people.
One of the sisters constantly urged us to stop being ‘balloons’ (to emotionally inflate oneself after each pilgrimage and have the desire to conquer the world but then a week later be again on the ground and not fight). She told be a forge (to make ourselves strong and even though there are difficult situations in life, to stay firm and faithful to the resolutions that we made during the pilgrimage).
For everyone, the girls and the sisters, this was a great grace that the Lord gave us. We hope to retain all that we have received and convert into that forge. It is no longer a time to play with the spiritual life, it is time to live in such a way that if the Lord calls us, He will find us ready. Now we have some saintly humble friends in heaven that will certainly help us.