Province Announces Order’s Consolidation of Peru Mission

Jocelyn Thomas Friar News

The friars of Holy Name Province were notified last week that changes are to occur in its mission foundation in Peru.

The General Minister and his definitory have decided — based on several factors — to consolidate the Order’s presence in Peru. Over the past decade, much discussion has taken place by the administrations of both the Province and the Order about the future of HNP’s mission.

From the Order’s perspective, in light of the evolving concept of mission ad gentes, the idea of a province maintaining its own foundation in another country where there already are established entities of the Order has become anachronistic, according to a letter sent last week to HNP friars. “From the Province’s perspective, we have come to realize that it will increasingly be difficult for us to maintain this foundation into the future by ourselves,” said Provincial Minister John O’Connor, OFM, and Provincial VicarDominic Monti, OFM.

Transition Procedure
The Order’s general definitory has asked the friars of the HNP foundation to enter a process of discernment. The goal is to integrate into one of the two existing provinces in Peru — either the Province of the Doce Apóstoles or the Province of San Francisco Solano.

“The Order is asking each friar to make an initial choice by next spring, with full integration into the native province(s) by the spring of 2014,” said the announcement letter. “This discernment process is intended to help each of our friars make the choice that best suits him and his own vocation, as well as determine how the ministries in which our friars are presently involved might be continued under the aegis of those provinces.”

In 2010, “the two other missionary foundations in Peru — considerably larger than our own — were amalgamated into the native Peruvian provinces. The friars of the Custody of San José (formerly dependent on the Province of St. Joseph, Canada) now belong to the Province of San Francisco Solano (popularly known as “Descalzos”). The friars of the Custody of Santísimo Nombre (dependent on the Province of Sicily) now belong to the Province of the Doce Apóstoles.  Both of the native provinces are based in Lima.”

Over the past year, the General Administration of the Order has been in dialogue with Holy Name Province’s leadership about the future of the foundation. In January, two Provincial Councilors — Brian Belanger, OFM, andLawrence Hayes, OFM — went to Peru to interview the HNP friars. In May, Dominic presented a report at the meeting of the General Definitory.

The integration envisioned “would presumably be similar to what occurred in our former mission territories in Japan, Bolivia, and Brazil: a friar could actually transfer to become a full member of one of the native provinces (thus becoming an ‘alumnus’ of Holy Name Province), or remain a member of Holy Name Province, but continuing to minister in Peru as a ‘guest worker’ in one of the native provinces,” according to the Provincial Administration.

Current Program
Nine friars are currently part of the foundation: Paul Breslin, OFM, Christopher Dunn, OFM, Mariano Gagnon, OFM, Percy Osorio, OFM, Emerson Rodriguez, OFM, Carlos Sarmiento, OFM, Dac Tran, OFM, Anthony Wilson, OFM, superior of the foundation, and Edgardo Zea, OFM.   

In the letter, John and Dominic expressed their pride in and appreciation for the current mission.

“We are grateful to Paul for his dedicated service as superior of the mission for the past nine years, especially with formation and the transfer of the obras sociales to other leadership,” they said. “We can look back with pride at the work our friars in Peru have accomplished in almost half century of service to God’s people there. We look forward to discerning new ways to continue this work in the future.”

The Provincial Administration asked that the HNP friars based in Peru be kept in prayer.

“Please keep Anthony and all our brothers there in your prayers, as they begin this discernment process, discussing possible options among themselves, with us, and with the two Peruvian provinces,” said John and Dominic.

 — Jocelyn Thomas is director of communications for Holy Name Province.