In terms of area, Peru is the third largest country in South America. The majority of its population of 32 million belong to the indigenous peoples of the country. The topography of the country ranges from the high mountains of the Andes through to the rainforests of the Amazon region.
Peru has been severely hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Although the country responded as early as March 2020 with a range of restrictions, nevertheless, one year later there were already over 1.7 million infections and over 57,000 deaths registered. The economic crisis of the country and the social tensions have only been further exacerbated by the pandemic. There is grinding poverty in the rural areas, and many people are now migrating to the cities, where problems of drug addiction and broken families already abound and are growing still worse.
The apostolic prelature of Ayaviti lies in the south of Peru and covers an area of over 12,500 square miles (32,000 km²) with a population of around 300,000 souls. Some parts of its territory are among the poorest and most neglected regions of the entire country.
The Catholic Church is facing many challenges here. Although theoretically around 85% of the population describe themselves as Catholics, many have become alienated from the Church, partly because there are far too few priests to minister to them. There are just 20 priests to cover the 21 parishes of this vast area and at the same time there is a lack of catechists and religious sisters. Many people know little or nothing about the Catholic faith, and the fundamentalist sects are making ever greater inroads.
Nonetheless, its former bishop, now Emeritus Bishop Kay Martin Schmalhausen, who retired only in April this year, does see some signs of hope. For one thing, the contemplative sisters of the Trinitarian order have been established in the prelature since the year 2011. They live an enclosed life and devote themselves to prayer. Yet, although they are not directly involved in the pastoral work and life of the prelature, they support this work and life through their prayer, their presence and the testimony of their faith. As the bishop writes to us, „We see with joy that vocations to the enclosed life are on the increase and are bringing increased blessings with them.“ And indeed, their numbers have grown from just 4 to 16 sisters in the meantime.
Once again this year, as he has done in the past and before his own retirement, the bishop has asked us to support these sisters in their life and apostolate. We were only too happy to promise him 4360 Euros.