March 02, 2004

Mercy presence in Peru

Mercy Sisters belonging to different member countries of Mercy International Association live work and minister in Peru.

The following are further responses received following the Mercy eNews item of February 17th and the invitation to contribute to this conversation of February 24th. Further contributions are welcomed.


The Merion Regional Community established its first mission in Chulucanas, Peru in 1983. Additional missions have been established in Pacaipampa and Lima.

Sisters are engaged in a variety of ministries: vocational training for women, health care, parish and other pastoral ministries, education and formation/incorporation.

The Merion Regional Community established a Formation/Incorporation program in Peru and then joined several other regional communities in a collaborative approach to Formation/Incorporation. Four Peruvian women are professed members of the Merion Regional Community. Two other Peruvian women are in the early stages of incorporation.

Germaine (Mercedes) Donohue, RSM, a member of the Merion Regional Community, died in Peru on November 1, 2001. In accord with her wishes, she is buried in Chulucanas. She is the first Sister of Mercy buried in Peru.

Members of the Merion Regional Community are actively engaged with other Sisters of Mercy in conversations related to the Institute of Mercy Uniting in Peru.

Joan Freney rsm

For nearly 20 years, the Sisters of Mercy of Merion Regional Community have participated in a collaborative ministry with the people of Peru, serving their physical, spiritual, economic and social needs.

Today, the Sisters of Mercy from Merion have joined with the Sisters of Mercy from Burlingame (CA) and Pittsburgh (PA) in the ministries of health care, education and spiritual development especially for women and children. These sisters also collaborate in a formation program with Sisters of Mercy from Ireland and Newfoundland for Peruvian women who wish to become Sisters of Mercy.

One goal of the sisters has been to provide women with the opportunity to learn marketable skills in order to financially sustain their families. Each year approximately 135 women take classes in sewing, cooking, embroidery and other trades.

Gregory Zazzarino, Communications Director

The Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Regional Community has one sister ministering in Lima, Peru. Sister Brigid O'Connell is a Montessori Teacher and Teacher Educator at the Catherine McAuley Montessori Center, apartado 170084, Lima, Peru, South America.

Char Cordes, Communications Director


The Foundation of the North Sydney,Australia, Mercy Sisters in Lima, Peru began unofficially when Jackie Ford transferred from Santiago, Chile to Lima,Peru, in February 1995 in response to a call by Doris, a Peruvian Mercy Sister who talked about the rampant terrorism being suffered by the people. She came to Lima where for a year and four months she lived in the Parish House of Huandoy and began to relate to the people of the shanty town called Cerro Choclo (Corn Hill). The women in particular called forth her compassion and with the help of three young Peruvian professionals who were in solidarity with the poor the dream to improve the life-style of the women was begun.

In May1996 Jackie was joined by Joan Doyle who had spent a year in Santiago and in July 1996, Patricia McDermott left Santiago to join with Jackie and Joan. The extreme poverty of the people and particularly the harsh lives of the women called forth the Mercy charism. In March 1997 the Women's House for Wholistic formation and skills learning"Catalina Mcauley" was opened in Corn Hill to give the women the opportunity to grow in self-esteem and discover their creative talents.

Sisters Patricia and Joan began moving among the people of Cerro Candela and once again the plight of the women called on the Mercy Charism and in March 2000 another Women's House was opened called "Madre de la Misericordia". Meanwhile this foundation in Lima had been given official recognition in June 1999 by the Congregation of Mercy Sisters, North Sydney.

During the years that have followed more that 1000 women have attended the women's houses and have become protagonists for improving the life style for themselves, their families and the people of their shanty towns.

On September 24th 2002, Mercy Family Health Centre was blessed and opened in the Women's House of Cerro Candela making essential health services available to those of the area suffering extreme poverty. Both houses have child-care centres as part of the services offered to the women so as to encourage them to have the freedom to attend the classes in the Women's Houses.

Jackie, Patricia and Joan feel privileged to be here in Lima among these very special people of God. It has been a very rich experience of Mercy International as we meet with Sisters of Mercy of many different countries throughout the world and the young sisters in formation here in Latin America.

Jackie, Patricia, Joan

Congregation (Ireland)

There are 6 Irish Mercy Sisters from the Western Province (Ireland) working in a Mission Area, in Lima, Peru. They work with the very poor and marginalised people in the desert area. They help with catechetical programmes in parishes and also work in a medical centre. They live in two separate communities in Lima – Villa El Salvador, and Las Brisas. One sister from the Las Brisas Community is presently living with a formation community in the northern mountain area of Peru. The Sisters of Mercy from Philadelphia are working with her in this community.

There are nine Mercy sisters in the Peru region, six Peruvians and three Irish, living in three separate communities with three sisters in each community. Two groups live and work in the coastal city of Trujillo and one group in the Sierra (the mountain area of Peru) in the town of Mache, Province of Otuzco. Mache is over 10,000 feet above sea level.

Ailish O'Brien rsm, Communications Co-ordinator


We have two communities in Peru - 3 sisters in Puerto Eten and 4 sisters in Ichocan.

In general our sisters are very much involved in the education of lay leaders in the faith and works of human promotion, always seeking to promote solidarity and justice.

One of our missions - Puerto Eten, is on the coast of Peru; we have three sisters there and they are involved in youth ministry, formation work (walking with young women interested in our Mercy way of life.),

acting as a contact with Centro Medico (a medical clinic), involvement with Catechesis Familiar (sacramental preparation with families) and in Jesu Nazareno - a women's centre for works of human promotion (nutrition, health )

Our other mission - Ichocan is in the mountain area of Peru and we have four of our sisters in ministry there, two of whom are native Peruvians, they are involved in parish ministry based in Ichocan but moving out to three or four neighbouring parishes;; one of our sisters has done full time coordination of religious education in the district and another is full time teacher in religious education in the school.

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