Father Joe made his first visit to Esmeraldas in Ecuador as Father Immediate of Mepkin, and on his return, he held a chapter where he shared the experience with the community.
Father Joe was accompanied on the trip by his translator, Brother Juan Diego of Conyers. During his time there, he gave five talks to the community and met each of the sisters in the novitiate. He also met individually with some of the other sisters. On the Sunday of his stay, he was present at the solemn profession of Sister Maria Claudia from Colombia, and he met the bishop of the diocese. Many people from the town also came to the profession.
A central moment of his visit was the blessing of the new library, which was a gift from Mepkin. He shared with the Mepkin community some beautiful photographs of the work that has been done, and he gave a blessing prayer with a procession inside and out.
Father Joe very much enjoyed this first visit to Esmeraldas. The community is thriving with thirty-two members, and the work with vestments is particularly inspiring. Father Joe returned from his time in Ecuador laden with gifts and letters. Of particular beauty was a cross that the sisters presented to him. The cross is a replica of the cross in Tibhirine in Algeria, the monastery where seven monks were kidnapped and killed in 1996. The Mepkin community is thankful for the sisters’ generosity and hospitality, and Father Joe looks forward to his next visit to Esmeraldas.