Mission in Peru: Reflecting on the First Year

The Sisters and some of the people of Peru.

BY VERONICA STIENBURG, ARCHIVIST

The Archives has some wonderful descriptions of the Sisters’ first years in Peru. The Annals of the first year of the mission in El Progresso, letters and reflections written by the Sisters at the time provide a glimpse into their lives and ministries. Here are a few excerpts:

December 11, 1967 - A walk around the barriada with Father Duncan. A rather depressing experience. Our inability to converse well – very frustrating. This tour revealed the depths of poverty and depression existing among the people of our area. It also showed us that some have a spirit of hope and a desire for better things. With this everything is possible. The pastor’s advice -- If you do nothing else this first year except visit the homes and give the people a sense of worth and dignity, you will have accomplished a great deal. My own reflection – we have much to learn from these, our people. (El Progresso Annals)

December 28, 1967 - In your last letter you advised us to go slowly at first. I have discovered that one cannot do otherwise in Peru. It is unbelievable how little one can do in a day sometimes. It took us two days to buy a fridge, and some afternoons we have gone to shop for about five hours and return with only a few pots and pans. We are quite a distance from down town Lima, and of course we are dependent on the help of our friends. (Letter from Sr. Rose Healy to Sr. Mary Lenore Carter, General Superior)

1968 - Most mornings I go out visiting among our people. These visits can prove to be most interesting, as we never know whether we will be called upon to give an injection, advise a mother about a sick child, discover that some are in need of medical assistance, or comfort a person spiritually or materially, etc. … Every afternoon of the week I attend meetings in the different barriadas in our parish. These meetings are with the Mother’s Clubs and the women involved in the Caritas program. We teach nutrition, sewing and alphabetization to the women. In the nutrition and cooking classes, the women memorize recipes and instructions as many of them cannot write. (1968 reflection by Sr. Mary Francis – Sr. Joey Doiron)

January 31, 1968 - Serenade for Sister Francis’ birthday. Our first experience of this custom. Men and women came to the convent at midnight. They sang and played guitars. We got up, opened the living room to them, more songs, dances and drinks and speeches. In the morning most of the group were at morning Mass in honour of Sister. (El Progresso Annals)

Sisters at Mass

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