Peruvian Parish Returned to Archdiocese

Christopher Dunn, OFM In the Headlines

Christopher Dunn with the altar servers prior to the Mass of Installation. (Photo courtesy of Chris)

Christopher Dunn with the altar servers prior to the Mass of Installation. (Photo courtesy of Chris)

LIMA, Peru — Members of Our Lady of Lourdes Parish gathered for their new pastor’s installation ceremony earlier this month. Fr. Julio Cahuana, a diocesan priest, was welcomed on March 13 at the 8:30 a.m. Mass, signaling the end of Holy Name Province’s nearly 40-year service to the parish. The community will now be served by one full-time pastor and one part-time vicar.

Among those in attendance were the new parish vicar, the pastor from a neighboring parish, and the episcopal vicar, who represented the archbishop of Lima, and me as the outgoing pastor Also present were people from all of the parish ministries and neighborhoods, along with representatives from the fire department, whom I serve as chaplain.

There was a huge turnout and lots of tears and tons of photos amid the extremely hot and humid summer day in Lima. The Mass was followed by a big buffet prepared by the parishioners in the parish hall.


The Secular Franciscans and Franciscan Youth with Chris at the reception in the parish hall. (Photo courtesy of Chris)

The Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province served Our Lady of Lourdes Parish for almost 40 years, beginning with Declan McCabe, OFM, and his work with social services. When the friars arrived, the area was a shantytown slum area populated with straw shacks that served as substandard housing. There were no public services. Today, it is a lower class, poor workers’ neighborhood with transportation services, paved streets and public services.

Over the years, the friars, assisted by Peruvian and foreign donors, were able to build a large social service, pastoral and office complex that occupies more than 33,271 square feet, almost the size of a square city block. The complex includes Our Lady of Lourdes, one of the few consecrated churches in Lima’s Southern Cone, as well as separate pastoral buildings for adults and children, a parish hall, a child daycare and kindergarten center, a soup kitchen, a medical, dental and pharmacy area, and administrative offices. It also includes a convent and a small rectory. The chapel station has a large meeting room, classrooms, offices and a parish house.

The parish’s many active ministries include: altar servers, John XXIII retreats, charismatic groups, rosary groups, Secular Franciscan fraternities, a Franciscan youth group, several choirs, people who visit the homebound, and 13 adult communities (Neocatecumenate Way). One family from the parish is serving in the missions. Two young women from the parish are in cloistered monasteries. The complex and these pastoral programs are now in the care of the Archdiocese of Lima.

Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Lima, Peru (Photo courtesy of Chris)

Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Lima, Peru (Photo courtesy of Chris)


Chris and new pastor Fr. Julio

Chris and new pastor Fr. Julio Cahuana (Photo courtesy of Chris)

Many friars from the United States have helped with pastoral ministry at Our Lady of Lourdes. Some American friars studied the Spanish language or completed their pastoral year in Lima, and several Peruvian friars also served in the parish. The formation program of Holy Name Province’s Peruvian Foundation was also located in the parish for many years. The Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mercy from Scranton, Pa., served alongside the friars for many years.

At the time of the transfer of the parish from the Franciscans to the diocese, there were two priests working full-time, assisted by one part-time priest helping on weekends. The archdiocese has assigned one full-time priest, Fr. Julio, and one part-time priest for weekends.

In the 1980s, Fr. Julio’s family had a property lot in a parish neighborhood when he was around eight-years-old. During that time, his mother was a household servant and the family spent Saturdays and Sundays in the “barrio”. He remembers singing in the parish choir with the IHM sisters and he remembers me “when Fr. Chris was really young”!

I am going to California to visit my sister to assist in the care of my mother who is ill with cancer. I will return to Lima to work with the friars in Santa Ana Parish, where Anthony Wilson, OFM, is pastor, and to continue serving as fire chaplain.

Fr. Chris has served in Peru for more than 30 years.

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