|Fr Kevin Dring enjoying a Peruvian Fiesta|
"I picked up the “Peru bug” back in 1982 when I went for part of a gap year, as a nearly-18-year-old, and spent some months in Chulucanas with Ian Byrnes, Jeremy Lear and Hugh Dutton. I just fell in love with the people, their simple but lively faith, their warmth and openness ... and their almost insatiable desire to celebrate! My vocational seed was definitely sown in those months and like a homing pigeon I was destined to return all of 23 years later as a priest. Once I arrived it felt like only a few years had passed, everything was instantly so familiar. I share a remembrance of one of so many fiestas, which I celebrated in my three years in the Andes.
They love a good fiesta. I thought the Spanish had the prize for wholehearted ‘Fiesta-ing’ but the Peruvians go a step or two further. In November 2005 we went for 2 days to help with and join the Fiesta of the Patrona of Sapillica, La Virgen Pura y Limpia. The fireworks, the processions, bands, music and dancing all day and into the early hours, 100's of baptisms, football competitions (first prize being a huge bull for the lucky winners ... not the easiest prize to share among a team!), singing competitions ... and all going on without interruption for 5 days. Yes – 5 DAYS!! I asked a priest from another parish what his fiesta was like. Having described it to me I said "you must feel tired at the end..." "ILL" he said "I'm always ILL afterwards!" He said it with a smile - confident of recovery in time for the next Fiesta no doubt! I grew to experience the ‘ill’ – recovery cycle many times over those the ensuing years!"