Father Arturo’s Talk on his Vacation        

                                                                     January 22, 2023

It is good to be back after three weeks away. My presence here today gives some peace to those of you who thought I had become a Nigerian prince. I am so thankful to Father Noone and Deacon Steve for the ministry they provided during my vacation.

After three years I returned to Colombia. My experience at the airports was great, I was not affected by the winter storms or the domestic flight cancellations. I saw my three siblings who live in Colombia: my two brothers, Antonio and Napoleon, and my sister Cecilia. I saw most of my nieces and nephews and baptized Manuel, the one-year-old son of my niece Julie.

Contrary to what is expected in Colombia during this time of the year, it was rainy. Rain, though, did not much affect my travels there. I spent some days in Bogota, the capital of Colombia, where my sister and niece live. My niece has a five-year-old daughter, Amelia, and the one-year-old son. I enjoyed been around them. Amelia attends a school where she learns English and does very well. I took the opportunity to practice with her. It is hard to find someone there to talk to in English among my family members and friends.

From Bogota I went to my hometown, Sachica, which is located three hours away by car. I spent New Year’s in my hometown with my two brothers who live there. My sister and nieces’ family were there as well.

My hometown has changed a bit in the last three years: more construction and children grown up. The parish church was closed due to major repairs in the roof. Termites finally got it. I also traveled to other cities to visit friends. I went to the beautiful city of Medellin to visit a Colombian priest friend of mine who works in New Jersey. I then went to another city, San Gil, with some old friends.

After visiting Medellin, I went back to my hometown to see several family members and friends that I needed to visit. I saw the only uncle left on my mothers’ side, Vitaliano. He is 78 years old.

The last leg of my trip was spent in Bogota where I baptized my nieces’ son. My two brothers and their families attended the baptism. In Bogota I also saw my only aunt left on my father’s side, Rosa; she is 90 years old.

Amelia, my niece’s daughter, was attached to a teddy bear dog; wherever she would go, she would have it. Her brother’s baptism was not the exception. It happened that when I went to pour water on his head, he had the teddy bear dog in his hands. Everyone was focused on the little boy except his sister, who was watching what would happen to her little teddy bear dog. When she realized that I was going to pour water on her brother, she said out loud, “Don’t wet my teddy bear dog”.

I enjoyed my visit to Colombia. I rested in the sense that I changed environment. These past days I have been feeling exhausted and I know why. I am glad I am back at the parish, looking forward to ministering you on this new year. Thank you for all your prayers for me and my family.