Columban Missionaries first began their work in Peru in 1951 and continue working throughout the country today. While Peru is a beautiful country, rich in culture and history and was once the centre of the Incan Empire, over 44% of the population currently lives below the poverty line. Many of those living in dire poverty are children.
There are 43 Columbans currently assigned to the Peru Mission – 25 Columban missionary priests, 5 students, 10 Priest Associates and 3 Lay Missionaries. The Regional Director is Fr Anthony Coney.
When the Columbans came to Lima in 1951, they took responsibility for a parish of 50,000 people on the northern side of Lima, extending from the Rimac River to the Chillon River. Most of the area was farmland worked under the hacienda system: landed gentry and peasants. The continuous urban sprawl, provoked by population growth and migration from the provinces, forced Columbans to divide and subdivide the original parish. There are now at least 25 parishes, where in 1951 there was only one.
In Peru, Columbans continue to work mainly in parishes within areas of poverty and where the dignity of life hasn’t been respected. From this parish base our principal focus is the striving to promote and empower lay leadership with co-responsibility in Church and Peruvian society. Christ being the model, and through trying to live and promote gospel values, we channel His fullness of life to all, especially to the downtrodden and those who have been forgotten by society.
Columban Fr Ed O’ Connell from Britain is currently based in the parish of Our Lady of the Missions and Fr John Hegerty is in the parish community of Christ the Saviour, both in Lima.
The parish of Santiago Apostol in Yanaoca in Lima has been staffed by Columban Fr Paul Prendergast since the late 1980s. The present pastor is Columban Fr Gregorio Kim Young-In, a Korean missionary priest, who is fluent in Spanish, as well as in Quechua, the language of the indigenous people of the area.
ASPHAD Centre and the Manuel Duato School
Life in Peru is particularly challenging for adults and children with disabilities. In response to this, Columbans have supported local communities to found two centres (ASPHAD Centre and the Manuel Duato School) providing access to educational opportunities, allowing adults and children the chance to develop their skills and abilties.
- Read more about ASPHAD and the Manuel Duato School (PDF)
- Read an article: New bus blessed
Children’s Centre of Yanaoca
The Children's Centre began with the initiative of a few Columban benefactors and their concern for the survival of children during a couple of years of intense cold. This unusual weather phenomenon put the lives of children, elderly, farm animals and pets at risk. The area of Yanaoca is very impoverished. The Centre is also a learning space where children can attain valuable skills for their future life.
Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation (JPIC)
Our advocacy work in JPIC has helped to promote the use of water and the protection from contamination of its sources in Lima. There has been a breakthrough in Peru in the whole area of ecology, which is highlighting the devastation of the country by industry, with Peruvians themselves spearheading these initiatives.
Other JPIC advocacy work in the region include women’s rights (read about Warmi Huasi - the Women's Centre in Huaycan, Peru), the human rights of children and people with special needs, the prevention of and care for those living with HIV, and we are in the forefront of promoting child protection in respect of sexual abuse.
Our mission programs for inviting lay people to work in areas where the church hasn’t as yet been established, and even within existing parish structures, is a tremendous gift to many, with the Columban Centre for Missionary Studies (CEM) giving them the formation required. We are more determined than ever to promote local lay missionaries (CMC) as we see this as being a significant part of the future growth of the Church in Peru.
You may also like
- Explore the Columbanos Peru website (spainish language)
- Follow Columban Mission in Peru via Facebook (spainish language)
- Read about the Columban Sisters in Peru
- Read the latest Feature articles
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- Subscribe to The Far East Magazine