Entry Seven: The Pavilion

The Dedication of the Father David E. Farrell, C.S.C., Pavilion was the event of the day. As we boarded the van for our trek across Lima to Canto Grande, the excitement continued to build. On Thursday, during our visit to the Fe Y Alegría School, we had a sneak preview of the brand new Father David Elbert Farrell Tormey, C.S.C., Sports and Cultural Pavilion.

The Father David E. Farrell, C.S.C., Pavilion is amazing! It far exceeded my expectations. I had envisioned a functional, open air, concrete structure with bleachers and a metal roof overhead. I think the image in my mind’s eye was not too dissimilar to Boston’s City Hall. If you have ever had the good fortune to visit my hometown of Boston, MA, and if you ever had the opportunity to have an excellent guide show you all the historic and beautiful buildings in this city by the sea, you probably did visit City Hall. It was built during the 1960s. Old Scollay Square was demolished to build our new government center. It features basic concrete structures, not too dissimilar to those you may have seen in photos of East Germany. Functional, yes! Good looking, not so much! The Pavilion, on the other hand, is grand structure sprouting from a desert patch. It is both functional and stunning!

The Parish has had the blessing of the services of a skilled architect, Julio Salinas. As the plans of the pavilion evolved, the architect noted that if the seating area of the stands were extended vertically, it would be possible to create classroom space under the bleachers. These additional classroom spaces would be a tremendous addition to the school and add to the functionality of the pavilion.

While the added space is so valuable, what is so astonishing about this addition is the source of funding. The parishioners of The Lord of Hope Parish raised $30,000 to donate to the project. I was stunned when I heard of their gift. When you become familiar with life in Canto Grande and its many struggles, it is hard to image how this donation was possible. The parishioners of Canto Grande have been blessed with the grace of faith and hope.

The Thursday preview was an overwhelming afternoon for me, from the unveiling of the dedication wall to a plaque dedicated in remembrance of my husband. I was in a daze. From the lone brochure capturing the innocence of the children in the desert to the unveiling of this important space for community, an idea had come to fruition.

Yet today, on this actual day of dedication of the pavilion, I was in store, once again, for more than I could have ever imagined. To see a building is one thing; to see a building being used well is something else entirely. The Pavilion had been transformed into a beautiful arena for the dedication ceremony. White flowing swaths of material, blue ribbons, and a sparkling chandelier donned the stage where Mass and the dedication ceremony would be staged. Crowds of parishioners, schoolchildren, musicians, and performers were all sharing in this gathering. Many in the audience were there to honor the man who had been at their side for decades transforming their community. As I watched Fr. David on stage listening to others speak fondly of him and all he had done, he wiped away a tear. This, after all the impossible things he had accomplished, was probably one of the hardest moments in his time at Canto Grande.

After Mass and the formal dedication, the crowd was entertained by a variety of performances. School choral groups and dancers performing Andean Folk Dances from the Fe Y Alegría School, young musicians given training through the Family Ministries at the Peyton Center, and the angelic children of Yancana Huasy along with their mothers proudly showcased their talents.

It made me compare again, how we, who come from such a privileged society often miss the joy of celebrating hard-earned accomplishments. This pavilion belongs to the people of Canto Grande. They watched it rise up from the dust over four years. The Pavilion will be incredible center, not merely for the school but for the entire community. There will be Masses and other religious ceremonies; there will be sporting events, such as basketball, volleyball, and more; there will be cultural performances; and there will be spacious capacity for meeting events. And of course, it being a Catholic operation, there will be BINGO! God is good!

Liz, her husband, and her daughter are all Stonehill graduates. Liz’s ties to the Congregation deepened after tragedy struck on 9/11, with the loss of her husband. Her mission to transcend evil through offering light and hope to those in dire need found a home through the Congregation’s work in Peru.Check out this article to learn more about Liz.

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