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Tuesday, 1 May 2018

OUR NEW HOME (THANKS TO THE CISTERCIAN NUNS OF LAS HUELGAS by Abbot Paul


Report on my recent visit to Peru and the move to Lurín
by Abbot Paul
The Abbess of Las Huelgas, Mother Mercedes Amutio Lacalle, and the last Superior of Lurín, Mother Trinidad Ruiz Ruiz, arrived in Lima 3 days before I did and left 4 days after my departure. Prior to my arrival they concluded the arrangement with the Poor Clares, who had lived at Lurín for a year before returning to their monastery in Lima, so that all would be ready to negotiate a new agreement with us. 
Since my previous visit, the Siervos de la Divina Misericordia (Servants of Divine Mercy), a relatively new Peruvian group comprising 13 members, 5 of them priests, had confirmed their desire to rent our property at Pachacamac, possibly from May onwards. The Bishop of Lurín, Mgr. Carlos Garcia Camader, has given the necessary permission for them to move into the diocese and work there. The initial contract will be for a year and can be renewed if both parties are agreeable. . The contract is being drawn up and will be signed shortly. All such contracts in Peru are drawn up by a notary, signed in their presence and then registered with the State.
At the Cisterican graveside
As the two elderly nuns were left alone in the monastery at Lurín, they asked that two of the brethren might stay there from the night of 17th. Fr Alex and Br Wilmer did that, while the rest of us remained at Pachacmac. On 18th, 19th and 20th Fr Richard Yeo, Br Mario and I met twice a day with the nuns to work out the details of the contact we would have with them. The bishop spent a day with us, while the Rector of the Seminary, Fr José Manuel Alonso Ampuero, and the Srta. Jenny Huamán Sulca of Sembrando Esperanza spent an afternoon with us. The notary Dr Maria del Carmen Chuquiure Varenzuela, was in attendance on two afternoons. Gradually, as by the hand of God, all the difficulties and obstacles were ironed out and disappeared.
 As the two elderly nuns were left alone in the monastery at Lurín, they asked that two of the brethren might stay there from the night of 17th. Fr Alex and Br Wilmer did that, while the rest of us remained at Pachacmac. On 18th, 19th and 20th Fr Richard Yeo, Br Mario and I met twice a day with the nuns to work out the details of the contact we would have with them. The bishop spent a day with us, while the Rector of the Seminary, Fr José Manuel Alonso Ampuero,  spent an afternoon with us. The notary Dr Maria del Carmen Chuquiure Varenzuela, was in attendance on two afternoons. Gradually, as by the hand of God, all the difficulties and obstacles were ironed out and disappeared. 
By Monday morning, 23rd April, with the help of Fr Richard and Br Mario, an agreement was reached and the details of the contract agreed by both parties. It was actually signed by Mother Trinidad and Br Mario, the legal representatives of the two religious institutions, on 26th. Basically, the contract gives our Benedictine community the usufruct of the land and buildings for 7 years, after which the property will pass into the ownership of the “Orden Religiosa de los Padres Benedictinos,” which is the legal name and juridical identity of the community and has been since we arrived in Peru in 1981. Our obligations, in addition to living the monastic life and consolidating the community, are to take care of monastery buildings, especially the church and cemetery, and to continue running the orchard, including the employment of the two workmen. We are asked to take particular care of the patrimony of colonial art inherited from the original Lima monastery of the same name. The bones of the two foundresses and of all the sisters of that monastery are now buried under the altar of the church. We also promised to renew our work with the poor, though this is no longer a stipulation.
Bros. Wilmer and Jose Luis
Mother Mercedes and Mother Trinidad were overjoyed at the presence of the monks at Lurín and to see a group of lively, devout and energetic young men taking over. It was a moving experience to sing the Divine Office with them and to celebrate the Conventual Mass each day. They have now cleared the place of what they needed to take back to Spain or simply get rid of. It is interesting to know that the complete archive of the colonial monastery is kept at Lurín. It was founded on 2nd February 1584 and suppressed in 1966, when the last four remaining nuns, including the last abbess, were forcibly united to the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception. Two of the four are buried in the cemetery together with one of the Las Huelgas nuns, whilst the bishop, who supported the nuns when they made their foundation in 1995, in buried in the church. By a decree of the Holy See, the new foundation was declared to be the continuation of the original Lima monastery, hence the name, Santa Maria de la Santísima Trinidad. The church was consecrated on 9th February 2000. 
In order not to lose our own history and identity in Peru, the brethren will be known as Monjes Benedictinos de la Encarnación. The new address is Monasterio Santa María de la Santísima Trinidad, Lurín, Lima 16. Email addresses will remain as they are at present, as will the postal address (Apartado 16-061, Lurín, Lima 16). The number of the landline is +51 1 4301057.
I should imagine that very soon the monks will be known locally as the Benedictines of Lurín and the monastery Monastery of Lurín just as Belmont is known as Belmont Abbey without mention of St Michael and All Angels.
The brethren are all living at Lurín, while two of Fr Alex’s uncles are doing some maintenance work at Pachacamac and living there. There is still a lot of “stuff” to be moved from there to Lurín. All will be ready for the other religious to move sometime in May, though there might be a slight delay until the beginning of June. The move to Lurín was somewhat hasty as the Cistercian nuns were so keen to hand everything over to us. They have no intention of returning. Mother Mercedes said that she felt they had fulfilled their duty in building the monastery that the Benedictines would live in and develop for the future and in this she saw the will and the hand of God. She kept quoting Psalm 117, “This is the work of the Lord, a marvel in our eyes.” In fact, it is quite a challenge that our Peruvian brethren have taken on.

Fr Paul
30th April 2018
Joyful Conclusion

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