LIMA, Peru — Approximately 15 years after its founding, the Santo Tomás Chapel was blessed by Bishop Carlos García of Lurín on Oct. 9 as worshippers and friars alike celebrated the building’s completion. Dac Tran, OFM, who ministers at the chapel, was present, along with Christopher Dunn, OFM, Carlos Sarmiento, OFM, and Anthony Wilson, OFM.
The church was built in 2001 by Fr. Gregory Chisholm, a diocesan priest from Canada. Tony began celebrating Mass there in January 2002, when the chapel came under the jurisdiction of the newly designated quasi-parish Santa Ana, of which he was the new pastor. Santa Ana Parish is divided into sectors of small communities that share the same problems and needs.
“In 2013, Bishop García expressed his desire to dedicate Santo Tomás Chapel, but we were not ready then,” said Dac, who has served there since July 2012. “At that time, the chapel lacked a lot of church furnishings. Thanks be to God, through the hard work of our community and with much thanks to our benefactors, things are different now.
“We are especially thankful to Ms. Ada Murillo of Centro Instituto Cibertec in Lima,” he added. “Through her contacts, the chapel is now furnished with a new baptismal font, a new confessional, brand new lectionaries, a processional cross, new lights, and a microphone for the altar. One member of our faith community made a beautiful altar cloth for the occasion, and last but not least, Tony helped us replace the old cement floor with a new bright tiled floor.”
In his remarks before the final blessings, Bishop García expressed appreciation to Holy Name Province for the presence and the works of the friars in his diocese. Tony was the first friar to be assigned to the diocese in 2001. Carlos followed him one year later, Dac arrived in 2012, and Chris was assigned to the diocese earlier this year.
“I’m really blessed to be here in this little corner of God’s vineyard with my brothers Tony, Carlos and Chris to serve the local church,” said Dac. “Thanks to their help and support, the dedication Mass went very well. It was a joyous and special day for all of us. God indeed always provides us with what we need to accomplish for his purpose.”
Ricardina Zamalloa, one of the founding members of the chapel, was especially moved by the dedication Mass.
“During the dedication of our chapel, I felt as if I was born anew,” she said. “The chapel is so beautiful now, and I could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit with us today. Thanks be to God for helping us get everything ready for this special day. God has strengthened our faith today.”
Maria Cerran, a volunteer cook for the Sunday school, appreciated Bishop García’s presence at the liturgy.
“I am very proud that our bishop has come to consecrate our chapel and blessed each and every one of us,” she said. “I’m so thankful for his visit. We need to continue working together for our Church.”
Angel Agulia, president of Santo Tomás Chapel’s pastoral council, agreed.
“We’ve been waiting for 15 years for the dedication of our chapel, and today God blesses our community with a beautiful dedication Mass by our bishop,” Angel said. “We need to work hard at evangelizing people in our area, and we need to pray for vocations so that one day God will bless us with a priest from our community.”
Over the years, the church has been served by several HNP friars — Carlos as well as Paul Breslin, OFM, John Heffernan, OFM, and Jim McIntosh, OFM. The Association of Peruvian Missionaries, a lay missionary group founded by Maryknoll, helped with catechesis and outreach for a number of years. Today, the Missionaries of Charity assist Dac with the apostolate.
In addition to the chapel, Santo Tomás offers a modest medical clinic built adjacent to a soup kitchen. Santo Tomás has been supported by several generous benefactors over the years, including its sister parish, St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Triangle, Va. Over the years, volunteers have repaired the dining area, put in stairs and handrails leading to the chapel, and painted the iron bars protecting the windows, according to Tony.
— Maria Hayes is communications coordinator for Holy Name Province.
- “Longtime Supporter of Peru Missions Presented with Francis Medal” — Oct. 3, 2016, HNP Today
- “Celebrating 50 Years of Franciscan Ministry in Peru” — Dec. 23, 2014, HNP Today
- “New Approach to Missions in Peru” — Nov. 6, 2013, HNP Today