“There are moments when seeing the suffering makes me cry” – Bishop Giovanni Cefai
Almost two months after assuming his mission as Bishop of the Huancané zone prelature in Peru, Bishop Giovanni Cefai said there are moments that cause him to weep when he sees the suffering of children and their mothers who have practically nothing. Bishop Cefai spoke to TVM about the stiff challenges he faces in his mission.
From Żebbuġ in Gozo and a member of the Missionary Society of St Paul he was appointed as the first Bishop of the Huancané prelature and began his mission at the end of June, a mission that he has to practically start from scratch.
While on a Malta visit, Bishop Cefai told TVM that although he has been in Peru for almost 20 years, the realities pertaining to Huancané are all new. The zone is 4,000 metres above sea level, lacks oxygen and is remarkably cold, these over and above the linguistic and cultural differences.
He said the culture is even new to Peru. He said the majority do not speak Spanish but Aymara and they are on the border frontier with Bolivia. This means there are many geographic challenges and it takes between five and six hours just to drive from one side of the prelature to the other. The situation is most difficult.
Mons Cefai said that together with 13 other priests the work of the Church in the zone will involve continual mingling with the population along the streets and made more difficult because the people have a very reserved character.
Bishop Giovanni Cefai said it is difficult to win the confidence of the people and the only way to do it is to mingle with the population in the streets. He said that Huancané is in need of much spiritual and social help.
Over these last two months in living with the people there he has witnessed great suffering and often he cannot hold back the tears when he sees the suffering of children and their mothers.
Bishop Cefai chose to celebrate his first Mass since his appointment as a Bishop in front of the portrait of Our Lady of Pompeii at the Jesuit Church in Valletta. This is because 121 years ago, in front of this painting, Giuseppe De Piro decided to no longer pursue his legal studies and instead took up the priesthood and then founded the Missionary Society of St Paul.