High up in the Andes on April 24, a very moving ceremony took place in Recuay, Ancash. The local parish community was paying tribute to Sr Eileen Rabbitte who, along with Sister Mary Nolan, had taken on a new Columban mission among them in the 1980’s.
As Eileen alighted at the bus stop she intended visiting some friends. But she was taken by surprise: a Welcoming party awaited her to escort her to the Plaza where the Bishop of Huaraz, Monsignor José Eduardo Vasquez Tarazona, the Parish priest of Recuay, Fr. Jesús Ramos Cortez and a large number of people had gathered to give her a tremendous welcome. Amidst tears of joy and emotion, all entered the church, which was beautifully decorated and with a statue of St. Columban in front of the Altar. Prayers of Gratitude were offered for Eileen and all Columbans who had been part of their lives, and are still remembered with much affection.
The next part of the Ceremony was in the Local community hall where the Bishop presented Eileen with a “Pieta” plaque as a token of gratitude for her dedication and commitment to the diocese.
Then Dr Milton Duck, the Mayor of the Municipal Province of Recuay, having read the Municipal Resolution of Recognition of Eileen’s untiring contribution to the Province, presented her with the Resolution and a “Puya Raymond-ii” – a sculpture made of Onyx stone from Recuay.
During a minute’s silence the deaths of Sister Joan Sawyer and Sister Marie Fay were remembered, followed by more messages of gratitude, and rounded off with wine and bocaditos and lots of abrazos…
After a delicious lunch with the mother and family of Columban Sister Eufrasia Luz Garcia Uribe (left, family photo), more expressions of appreciation were poured out as we walked along the streets, including those from an old couple, now evangelists, who could not resist expressing their deep appreciation of “la Madre Elena” .
Account sent by Sister Mary Neylon who is missioned in Huayacan, Lima, Peru
More photos of the occasion will come later