Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of May 7, 2007
Step 1: Listen to the people who were here first
By GLEN ARGAN
"I'm really impressed with the great stuff that has been going on here and with the great dedication of the people."
His work teaching at St. Peter's Seminary in London, Ont., had provided his only contacts. One faculty member was a priest on leave from Pembroke and two seminarians came from that diocese. They impressed him with their talk of the beauty of the Ottawa Valley.
On arriving, he found his appointment to have been "a great blessing," he said. "It was a great grace for me to have the opportunity to have been there."
The priests were "very good dedicated holy priests who just want to serve." The people have "a wonderful missionary spirit."
Previous to Smith's arrival, some parishes in the diocese had formed links with parishes in the Third World, mainly the Dominican Republic.
Taking to heart Pope John Paul II's call for churches of the North to build mutually supportive relations with churches in the South, they decided on a diocesan project.
He proposed building ties with the Archdiocese of Lima, Peru. "Everyone said 'Let's go for it.' Now it's really starting to take off."
The diocese agreed to fund outreach programs in the shantytowns of Lima to provide good nutrition to 1,000 children for three years and to educate their parents.
In November 2006, the diocese sent 43 people on pilgrimage to Lima.
"This was a pilgrimage to go and encounter Christ in the poor," Smith said.
Every day, the Pembroke pilgrims went to visit local holy sites or to visit places of dire need, he recalled. Every night they prayerfully reflected on what they had witnessed.
"That has had a wonderful ripple effect in our own diocese - that whole sense of being called out of ourselves and into the mission."
The Church in Lima is extremely active and well organized in reaching out to people in poorer areas and giving them hope. But they lack financial resources, he said.
"It was a blessing for us to be able to give a helping hand."
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