Walking with the Poor – My Life On The Missions
Fr Martin Chambers
Each month I will publish an extract from my book – Walking With The Poor
I hope you enjoy reading about my journey, and you will be touched by the people of Nueva Prosperina.
I began to settle into life on the other side of the world. One of the events that helped me do that was my first Holy Week in Guayaquil. I had heard various reports of what I could expect but when the youth group of San Ignacio presented me with a donkey for the Palm Sunday procession, I knew this year’s Holy Week was going to be different. At that stage, all of my Masses were in bamboo huts which were spread out all over the parish. So I decided that I would try and have the Holy Week Masses spread across the various chapels.
The first big event is the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper which took place in Resucitado chapel and, although it was at the top of a very steep hill, was packed. As usual I had nominated twelve people for the ‘Washing of the Feet’ but when it came to the ceremony, there were something like thirty feet thrust around my plastic bowl. More than the apostles I suppose but I loved the enthusiasm of the congregation. Then on Good Friday we had a Stations of the Cross procession through the Parish from the Ring Road up to San Ignacio chapel. This was a truly moving experience with traffic stopping and the young people acting out the last events of Jesus’ life. In the evening we had our Good Friday liturgy crammed into the tiny La Paz chapel. What impressed me was the way that people came to these services from every corner of the Parish – the congregation didn’t simply come from the host chapel.
On Holy Saturday we had the third day of our Youth Events where the young people took part in discussion groups, sang, danced and prayed together. Then, in the evening, we gathered at the school chapel for the main Easter Vigil. Of course one of the main themes of that vigil is the contrast between darkness and light and, as if God had planned it that way, there was a power cut right at the moment we were about to start. We conducted the readings in complete darkness while Jose, our local handyman, was hanging from the rafters trying to reconnect our wiring. As if by heavenly design, right at the moment when we proclaim Jesus as risen, the lights came on! Our small chapel lit up with Easter light. Throughout Holy Week and Easter I was touched by how many people, especially the youngsters, came out in force to express their faith.
Fr Martin Chambers