The last two weeks before Holy Week saw me take a two week trip up the river to visit communities. Peter stayed behind in the town and then I arrived back for Holy Week. This year we celebrated Holy Week in two places. Here in the town in the centre, and in one of the furthest areas of the town that is growing quickly. During the week there was a retreat and missions for young people, which were well attended, and Easter celebrations in the different schools.
Holy Week was accompanied by plenty of rain and cool weather. Colds and coughs abounded but we seem to be on the mend once again. At the moment we are working on different projects amongst which is an Easter celebration for the sick and housebound.
The cemetery here in Barcelos is an interesting place. Not really the sort of place where you would want to walk through, never mind leave a departed loved one. Bit of an eye sore! Dirty and depressing are words that come to mind but anyone who dies around these parts necessarily finishes up in the cemetery. The state of the cemetery is not really surprising. In the mindset of a person who has come from anywhere in the modern civilized world, the opinion of this place would be that the majority of people here live amongst dirt, falling down, half built rickety old houses, little hygiene, no sense of décor or care to details. Here it is normality. And if life is spent this way, why should the cemetery be any different? There are overgrown, muddy graves, some half open with the odd bone sticking out, graffiti and rubbish strewn about the place. It’s a sad state of affairs. But what can be scandalous for some is a normality for others. Having said this, there are universal truths such as the dignity of life. No matter what the culture or continent, dignity of life should always be something that is present but often it’s the last thing on people’s minds.
Our contribution is always like a drop of water in the ocean but we try to promote a bit of dignity in ways we can, helping people to live and die in a dignified way. Easter celebrates the passion, death and Resurrection of Christ. It’s this wonderful mystery that gives us reason to hope and purpose in life.
Included amongst the pics is Lulu who sadly died before Easter. I adopted her a year ago after finding her abandoned in a community and, having a soft spot for man’s best friend, I brought her back. She was good to have around as a parish dog and good company. She was a mongrel like all the dogs here, but she got the best food and treatment going! In the end she died due to infection caused by her dead puppies that she wasn’t able to give birth to.
Anyway must get this mail off before the next batch of rain comes in so I´ll end here.
Keep us in the prayers and God bless,
Fr James and Fr Peter