Week II in Colombia

 

My first full week in Bogota began with a bang- the Feast of Corpus Christi. This was a two day celebration here- Sunday was the religious holiday, and Monday was the government holiday, which shut the town down.

Sunday morning, we had Office of Readings and Lauds at 7am, and then Mass at noon. After morning prayer, I took advantage of an event called “Ciclovia Bogota” which has been going on since 1974. This event shuts down the major thorough-way through Bogota to automobiles every Sunday morning from 7am to 2pm. This creates a 125 km route (about 77 miles) for walking, biking, running, rollerblading, and skateboarding. The route is quite nice and took me past a number of Catholic churches, parks and the Archdiocesan seminary.

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The Major Seminary of the Archdiocese of Bogota with bikers in the forefront.

 

The Corpus Christi mass was a grand event. All the pews in the Church (Templo) were full. There were six altar servers and about a dozen priests con-celebrating. Following the mass, all the friars that were around, in addition to about a hundred or so other people parading around the courtyard of the priory, making four stops along the ways. It was quite an exciting and emotion event, and I will admit to being a little choked up at the end.

Student Master Fr. Ivan Garzon carried the Blessed Sacrament during the procession.

 

During the rest of the week, I focused on continuing to work on Spanish and to put it into practice by trying to navigate the city via taxi.

I also set about with the help of the students to accomplish some key tasks in the priory.  Tasks such as, where to do laundry (there are ladies who do the laundry, and insist on ironing every single article of clothing), where to find new linens, and where to find a replacement light-bulb for a burnt out one (the 5'-2” janitor initially insisted that he would change the bulb, but relented once he saw that I would have a much easier time getting up on the chair and replacing the bulb).

On Thursday, I along with my classmates Rev. Br. Gregory Marie Pine, OP and Br. Timothy Danaher, OP and our instructor visited Bolivar Plaza. Bolivar Plaza was the initial center of Bogota, and features the Cathedral, a number of government buildings and the Jesuit High School, Collegio San Bartolomé.  Collegio San Bartolomé was initially founded as a high school and major seminary. The major seminary portion is known a mile or so away and is named the Pontifical University Javieriana. Both schools boast St. Peter Claver as an alum.

Rev. Br. Greg, Sra. Clara Helena and Br. Timothy​
 

The Cathedral itself was undergoing some renovations, so it was not open to the public, but the attached adoration chapel (its more of a church itself than a chapel) was open for viewing. I was impressed by the chapel physically, as well as how serious people take the chapel itself. There was a guard at the door that insisted upon people emptying their pockets, and physically turning off their phones in front of him. As well, there were clear standards set about dress, not talking, no photographs and the necessity of a spirit of reverence.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

We also saw the Museum of Gold, which began as a side exhibit room at the National Bank, and is now a six story museum of gold artifacts from pre-Columbus Colombia. I was astounded by the intricate handiwork that was carried out be the indigenous peoples of Colombia. If you are ever in Bogota, Colombia, I recommend visiting this museum.

Lastly. this week I was not able to accompany any of the students on their pastoral service activity. This was due to this week being the end of the semester, as well as, Saturday (the normal day for pastoral visits) being the day for the Licentiate presentations/defenses in philosophy.

 

God bless,

 

Br. Chris OP