Sunday, June 17
The chapter members’ alarm sounded early this morning: at 6.30 AM we are all in the refectory for breakfast and at 7 all on the bus on the way to Ambato, a city of about 160,000 people, some 120 km south of Quito along the beautiful Andes mountain range.
Ambato is in the province of Tungurahua, the one in which all the first heroic Josephan missionaries of the last century have passed through to reach the Napo. And it is precisely from this region that most of the Ecuadorian Josephites come from. The landscape is enchanting, with a succession of hills and valleys. Ambato, which is over 2500 meters above sea level, is also the capital of flowers and fruit: you can find a bouquet of 24 roses for only 2 dollars … and you can also find an ambateno general treasurer whose name is “Flores,” Fr. Juan Flores! In Ambato, the CSJs direct two schools with about 1700 students: the “Gonzalez Suarez” and the “Murialdo Technical College.”
They also staff a parish owith about 6000 people and a beautiful circular church dedicated to “San José Custodio del Redentor.” It is precisely in this temple that the chapter members celebrate Mass, presided over by the new General Superior. It is a festive celebration for 4 Ecuadorian CSJs who remember 50 years of priestly life: Gilberto Freire, Gustavo Orbea, Evelio Ortiz and Efren Gallegos. The church is filled by relatives and parishioners. Then everyone moves to the theater for greetings, messages, songs, dances and lots of joy! Finally, lunch for everyone under tents in the courtyard, other gifts, other music, other dances …
Before returning to Quito there is time to visit the community of the Murialdo Sisters and their home for abandoned children: joyful plays with the children, more songs, and a snack together!
In short, today there is no chapter work. Well, was it or not the day of the Lord?
But tomorrow… it’s Monday !!!