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An Update on the Province’s Friars in Peru

LIMA, Peru — Provincial Vicar Dominic Monti, OFM, conducted the canonical visitation last week of the Province’s friars ministering in Peru on behalf of Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM.  Accompanying Dominic were Brian Smail, OFM, the Province’s Director of Vocations, who served as interpreter, and Robert Menard, OFM, of St. Francis Parish in Triangle, Va., which has been “twinned” for some time with the Province’s ministries in Peru. 

During the three-day stay, they visited all of the Province’s ministry sites.  The trip was in the height of Lima’s summer, with daytime temperatures in the 80s and sunny skies.  “The visit provided a pleasant respite to our northern winter,” Dominic said.

The Lima metropolitan area stretches some 60 kilometers from north to south and 30 kilometers from east to west, and contains about eight million inhabitants, making it one of the 10 largest cities in the Americas. The Province relinquished the former base of its ministry in Peru, the parish of Santíssimo Nombre de Jesus in the San Borja section of the city, to the Archdiocese of Lima in 2005.

Today, the Province’s friars are ministering in what is called the Cono Sur (“South side” of metro Lima) in an area of pueblos jovenes (“young towns”) constructed over the past 20 years by recent immigrants from rural areas, according to Dominic.  In Mateo Pumacahua, Christopher  Dunn, OFM,  has been working as pastor of Nuestra Señora de Lourdes Parish for the past 15 years. The friary in Mateo also serves as headquarters of the mission, withPaul Breslin, OFM, as guardian of the friar community.  Mariano Gagnon, OFM,  and John Heffernan, OFM, are also residents of the friary there when not working in the jungle area of Satipo, east of the Andes. Mateo also is the site of a health clinic begun by the late Declan McCabe, OFM, as well as a day care center for children.

Anthony Wilson, OFM,  and Carlos Sarmiento, OFM,
 live in the district of Villa Maria del Triunfo, about a half hour further out from Mateo, in the suburban diocese of Lurin.  This area was settled more recently, and still has a good number of homes without electrical power or indoor plumbing.  The friars serve in the parish of Santa Ana, which has several mission stations in addition to the main church.  There are several clinics in this parish also, where John provides dental care when residing in Lima. Recently, Carlos and Tony have been asked by the bishop to serve several mission churches further out in the Lurin Valley. This area, in contrast to the desert climate of most of the Lima region, is a verdant agricultural district with an Umbrian feel, Dominic said. 

Peru_LargeWhile in Peru, Dominic’s group visited another clinic established by Declan in the impoverished area of Pamplona Alta, which also provides a soup kitchen, where Sr. Maureen Robinson, OP, of the Sparkhill Dominicans, has worked for more than two decades.  Also travelling to Peru for visitation was Jim McIntosh, OFM,  who is currently ministering in Cochabamba, Bolivia, where he is working half-time for the Bolivian province as Director of Communications, and half-time directing a social outreach center. 

Since visitation also provides the opportunity for friars to get together for relaxation, on Feb 28, the Lima friar community gathered for a delicious meal at La Caretta, one of Lima’s delightful restaurants, said Dominic, adding that “the friars in Lima encourage all to come and experience their life and ministry.”

Shown in photo are, clockwise, beginning in foreground: Tony Wilson, Paul Breslin, Pedro Castro, OFM, (Peruvian Province of Twelve Apostles), Brian Smail, Dominic Monti, Mariano Gagnon, Chris Dunn, Jim McIntosh, John Heffernan, and Bob Menard.