A September for Remembering

Clergy, Sister Rose-marie Bokenfohr, Sister Sara Jimenez and Peruvian people gathered for photo
September 24 in Peru: Feast of St. Vincent de Paul in El Progresso

BY SISTER GAYLE DESARMIA

2017 is a special year in the history of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul. Fifty years ago they opened their mission in Peru – in El Progresso, Carabayllo. While the official celebration takes place December 10 in Peru, Sisters and Associates began to commemorate the event in September.

The Peruvian Associates have dedicated their whole year to studying and celebrating the events of these 50 years. Through personal testimonies they have re-lived the journey of the Sisters and Associates since 1967.

September 15 in Peru: Panel Presentation in El Progresso

September 15 the Sisters and Associates in Peru began reflecting and celebrating with others. They had a panel presentation on “The Poor in St. Vincent de Paul”. Father José Antonio Ubillus of the Congregation of the Mission gave a picture of the spirituality that encouraged the Sisters and Associates to commit themselves to the marginalized of society. Father Noel Kerrin of the Missionaries of St. Columban recalled the Pope’s invitation after Vatican Council II for religious to extend their missionary activities to Latin America. This is why many missionaries came to Lima to work with and among the poor. The third member of the panel to speak was Sister Rose-Marie Bokenfohr of the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul. She gave testimony to her work in public health during the last 50 years. More than 180 people attended this event which ended on a high note with children performing a folk dance, refreshments and the distribution of a book by Peruvian Associate José Távara (Pepe) entitled “Walking for 50 years with the town of Carabayllo”.

People sitting listening to a speaker at the front of the room.
Panel Presentation in El Progresso

September 24 in Peru: Feast of St. Vincent de Paul in El Progresso

Sunday, September 24 a special Mass was celebrated in El Progresso in Christ Light of the World Church to mark the feast of St. Vincent de Paul. Sisters, Associates, representatives of the Daughters of Charity, friends, neighbours and parish groups were present. The statue of St. Vincent de Paul from the grotto at the Sisters house held a place of honour. After the Mass the Sisters and Associates processed the statue back to the grotto where they sang and prayed and then ended their celebration with a breakfast together. 

September 24 in Canada: Marillac Mission Fund Presentation

That same Sunday, Sisters, Associates, donors to the Marillac Mission Fund and members of the Sunday faith community gathered in Catherine McKinley Hall at Providence Motherhouse in Kingston, Ontario. After a catered lunch Sister Sandra Shannon welcomed all present and Sister Gayle Desarmia walked those present through a PowerPoint presentation to mark the 50th anniversary. After time for questions and answers about the work in Peru the event ended with a free raffle for Peruvian souvenirs.

Display board with photos of places in Peru and the Sisters who were missioned in Peru.

September 27 in Peru: Feast of St. Vincent de Paul in Lima

The “remembering” of September ended with Sisters and Associates, who were able, travelling into Surquillo – Lima, to join the other members of the Vincentian Family of Peru. Together the Vincentian communities celebrated Mass at St. Vincent de Paul Church in Surquillo. 

Watch for an account of the official 50th anniversary celebration in the next issue of Providence Pages.

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