Fr. NickI ministered in Tijuana, B.C., Mexico for eight years before deciding that at age 65 I needed one more great challenge. So I was sent to minister in the Andes Mountains of Peru. My new home became a region that has snow-capped mountains all year long, a major climate change from the desert-like conditions of Tijuana.

In my new mission territory, the people were mostly indigenous farmers.  Growing conditions were difficult for many crops, but potatoes were an exception.  There were more than 200 types of potatoes cultivated by area farmers, and they came in many different shades of color, including blue, yellow and purple.  Every day I ate potatoes for breakfast. 

As Pastor of Cristo Rey Parish in Chincha, I could break my missionary work into three sections: 

The first area was a main church with 16 satellite chapels. The population was over 100,000. There were more than 1,000 little adobe houses which the Oblates have built over the years. Brother Blaise MacQuarrie, O.M.I. is still active in this work at the age of 81. Over the years the Oblates have also constructed 100 comedores (food pantries) to meet the nutritional needs of local residents.

The second area was a vast area of shacks (also a population over 100,000) where there was no running water or sewage system. I saw children bathing in a canal fed by river water. As in Tijuana, trucks with water tanks came around to fill barrels. None of the roads were paved so there was a lot of dust. At the far end of this section was a prison served by my parish. One time we obtained 1,000 blankets and material for handicrafts for the inmates. The government only provides the prisoners with food and nothing else. There were 2,000 men incarcerated there.

The third area was the sierra, high mountains with river valleys populated only by indigenous people. There were a few towns like Chavin and San Pedro Huanacapa (a six-hour drive from the parish on unpaved roads). I was the only priest working in this vast area.

I thank you for taking time to learn about my missionary journey. I have not taken this journey alone. God has been by my side, a constant source of strength. My brother Oblates have been there too as a source of inspiration. Friends like you have been my co-missionaries, offering prayers and financial support so that I can work among the poorest of the poor. It has been a long and winding journey, and I pray that there are many more twists and turns to come.

As a Missionary Oblate, Fr. Nick Harding, O.M.I has taken an amazing journey of faith. He has worked with the poorest of the poor in Mexico and Peru. He is heeding the advice given to him by other Oblate missionaries – be natural, be yourself, be like a child, spend extra time with the people.

As you can see from the information below, your small gift can make a big difference in the lives of the poor served by Fr. Nick and other Missionary Oblates.

$100 – can feed a family for four months in Peru. 

$25 – can provide a year’s supply of clean water for a family in Tijuana, B.C., Mexico. 

$40 – can provide the study materials for the children in Catechism classes in Mexico or Peru. 

$50 – can buy the concrete needed to install a floor at an Oblate chapel that currently has a dirt floor. 

$10 – can buy 100 toothbrushes for needy children in Peru. 

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