BARRY’S BAY – The people of Peru have gone through many ups and down throughout the last 50 years.
Thankfully, the Sisters of St. Josephs were right there along with them.
This March 19, the Canadian Federation of Sisters of St. Joseph, which includes the Sisters in Pembroke, will be celebrating a half-century helping the people of Peru through their annual missions.
The missions started when the pope requested religious communities have 10 per cent of their members volunteer for foreign missionary work.
At the time, there was a shortage of priests in Peru, so priests from the Oblates of Mary Immaculate of Ottawa were living and working in parishes across the country.
In 1964, the Sisters of St. Joseph went to Peru to assist by opening schools and medical centres.
Sister Rosenda Brady, commonly known as Sr. Rosenda, is a well-known religious figure in the Barry’s Bay community and member of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Pembroke.
“The first Sisters to go to the mission in Peru were Sister Mary Varney and their sister Edna Prince,” Sr. Rosenda recalled.
Three months after they arrived by boat in Peru, Sr. Maria Mousseau, Sr. Nora Kelly and Sr. Teresa Rice joined them in the mission. They brought with them more supplies for the country.
The women opened up two medical clinics and a school called Our Lady of Fatima.
The medical centres today provide general medicine, gynaecology, dentistry, basic lab work and other instrumental health care services.
As the years went on, the mission took on many important projects, Sr. Rosenda Brady outlined. This included water projects, which brought water and sewage into homes, a breakfast program, youth group program and capital loans for small business.
“Over the past 50 years, living conditions have improved for the people,” Sr. Rosenda said. “Health care very much upgraded, drinking water improved, we built Christian communities and the people are faith filled.
Over the years, a total of 12 Sisters from Pembroke have served in the missions in Peru, which operate in Chincha Alta, Chincha Baja, Comos, Lima and parts of the jungle.
Get your March 19, 2014 edition of The Valley Gazette to read this full story.