By Sister Deborah Watson
Sisters of Mercy from the United States were among those who responded to the Church’s call for more missionaries to Latin America.
The first four sisters to go to Peru from the United States were sponsored by the Chicago Province of the Union and arrived in Sicuani, near Cusco, Peru, in 1961. The mission was closed in 1969 largely due to problems with the government. Ministries were left in the hands of Peruvians.
The second Mercy group arrived from Burlingame, California, in early 1964 to minister to the Aymara people of the Prelature of Juli, Puno, Peru.
Their many ministries included education. In this photo, Sister Regina Marie Bayley prepares catechists.
Sister Barbara Cavanaugh, pictured above, was one of the first to live among the people as midwife and helped promote women’s integral development.
In 1967 the Pittsburgh Congregation sent sisters to Chimbote, Peru, on the coast North of Lima. In the photo above, one of these sisters, Sister Rose Dalle Tezze, stands with school students at Parroquia Virgen de la Puerta.
Sister Betty Carroll—who served as president of Carlow College, of the Pittsburgh Regional Community and of LCWR—took up residence in Chimbote at the age of 69. She spent 16 years advocating for women’s rights and dignity and collaborating with other women to found Casa de la Mujer.
In 1983 sisters arrived in the newly formed Diocese of Chulucanas, to minister in Pacaipampa, a remote mountain area frequently accessible only by mule. In this photo, Sister Mary Klock prepares to saddle up!
Sister Patricia Mulderick with children in Pacaipampa.
Sister Connie Haughton converses with a village woman in Pacaipampa.
The approach to ministry in Peru has developed and grown through the years. Centro Betania in Chulucanas provides multiple services, especially for women, and provides education on pressing issues such as the trafficking of persons. Women also learn marketable skills such as sewing and cooking.
Centro Betania also provides seed money for domestic animals and self-development opportunities for rural women.
Sister Blanca Quintana prepares for a workshop in Chimbote at Casa de la Mujer.
Sister Gloria Miller visits the Kantuta Knitting Group in Puno, Peru, where women create beautiful knitted goods to be marketed as far away as California. Their finger puppets are especially popular! Credit: Sister Deborah Watson
Wherever they are, current community members actively promote and accompany women who express interest in living Mercy spirituality as vowed members, associates or collaborators. For example, two Mercy sisters in Peru recently led a mission experience for five university students, to share with these young women the experience of living as Sisters of Mercy. See photos from their experience!