A missionary of the Spanish coastal city of Valencia will form young people in Peru who, during the pandemic, have been “improvised pastoral agents dedicated to the distribution of food and medicines to the elderly. Maria Carmen Izquierdo, of Manises, Valencia, has been working in a parish in the Province of Lima for over four years, reported AVAN News Agency of the diocese of Valencia on Monday, January 3, 2022.
According to the diocese, Maria Carmen Izquierdo of the Servants of the Gospel of the Mercy of God will start a project of formation with her Religious Community this year, for 40 young people of the Peruvian diocese of Chosica who, during the pandemic, “were improvised pastoral agents who helped many elderly people, taking food and medicines to their homes.”
The consecrated missionary, of Valencia’s town of Manises, has been working for four and a half years in the urban area of the Peruvian province of Lima, where her Community, with a total of four women religious, is attached to the San Cristóbal parish in the city of San Juan de Lurigancho, explained Izquierdo in a recent visit to Valencia.
The missionaries follow the charism of the private Association of Faithful to which the Servants of the Gospel of the Mercy of God belong. They work in the realm of youth and University pastoral care and in missionary formation. In addition, their mission includes “opening fields of rapprochement to the faith for people estranged from it, especially the young people, which means going to the slums where conflictive situations are lived stemming from their estrangement,” she explained.
In fact, the young people “were and are the protagonists of the pastoral life of our parish in the pandemic: they taught the elderly to use digital tools . . . and, in many cases “ took food and medicines to some “300 families, talking with them and accompanying them in the loneliness of their confinement,” she continued.
The pandemic has witnessed “a display and capacity of creative initiatives in young people, who have seen and felt themselves necessary and sensitive to the needs of their neighborhoods. “And we want to support all that, giving them formation in the coming year so that these seeds will continue to bear fruit.”
This help for their formation “is very necessary because, in the area where we are the young people study and work,” however, “because of the pandemic, they lost their jobs and have been unable to continue their studies,” adding that “now that there are fewer restrictions, they are trying to reinvent themselves, to get income and be able to continue with their formation; they are fighters and we want to help them,” said Izquierdo.
The formation project will include identifying a building “where they can meet, have furniture and material covered by scholarships, which will benefit some 40 young people. Of these, only one third were integrated in the parish before the pandemic.” Now “all are involved in parish life.”
Support for Those in Mourning
María Carmen Izquierdo has spent a good part of her life as a missionary in Eastern Europe: eight years in Poland, and eight years in Ukraine, to which are added five years in South America, with some parentheses, concretely in Argentina, her last destination before going to Peru.
The pandemic in San Juan Lurigancho and in general in Peru “has been a very harsh experience, with much pain and many restrictions up to the month of September of 2021, because there are not sufficient hospitals and the health system is very basic. The hardest thing, without a doubt, was the search for oxygen.” Not only was it lacking, but there was “speculation with its price.” In this connection, the Church made an enormous effort to help the people affected,” she explained.
In this same line, one of the tasks carried out by the Servants of the Gospel during the pandemic was to accompany those in mourning, “not only for the loss of family members but also for the loss of health, work, and because of loneliness.” Many people “have the sensation of not having said good-bye with dignity to their relatives who died in the pandemic; they live with much guilt and insecurity. What we did was to come together virtually with the families to pray and to listen to them, trying to give them keys to be able to live their mourning.”
Parishes or individuals that wish to collaborate with the missionary projects carried out in Peru by Maria Carmen Izquierdo, can contact the Ad Gentes Foundation or send contributions to the Sabadell Bank account ES74 0081 5515 2900 0261 7863. For additional information, contact the Foundation at Calle Avellanas 22, in Valencia, or call telephone number 963922412, or send an e-mail to [email protected]