“I was called to Peru to change and become like a child and welcome one in God’s name."
~Rena Calanca
VIDEO: 2014 Saint Joseph Peru Mission Trip

Pilgrimage to Peru

Since 1568, the Jesuits have had a strong impact on the people of Peru, especially in areas where the need is great. In the last 200 years, over 50 US Jesuits have been missioned to one of four areas: El Agustino, Ayacucho, Cusco, and the Amazon. During this time, the Jesuits have established ministries including 1 university, 5 high schools, 72 Fey e Alegria (Faith and Joy) schools, 12 parishes, 8 retreat centers, and 2 radio stations.

Jesuits are always welcoming pilgrims who want to see and participate firsthand in these apostolic works. In June 2014, the International Sharing Committee from St. Joseph Catholic Church in Libertyville, Illinois, traveled to Peru to experience Jesuit ministries that are devoted to serving the people of south central Peru. St. Joe’s ISC, co-chaired by parishoners John Adams and Marjorie Gaitan, is committed to supporting mission projects in partnership with the national population and have a strong goal to make any project they initiate self-supporting. Sixteen pilgrims explored various sites, especially in Cusco and Huaro.

St. Joe’s parishoners Jo Anne and Dan Coughlin and their son, Sean, were among the pilgrims on the trip. The two-week pilgrimage was a real eye-opener, especially for Sean, as he experienced how people live on modest means. Lunch consisted of fried rice, beans, and “some sort of meat.” As a 14 year old, he thought, “I am always hungry and I can’t imagine having only one meal to eat all day!” He visited a workshop where the children are taught how to make guitars and violins. This had a great impact on him since he plays the piano and trombone and knows how making music can help the children feel happy. The pilgrims surprised the children with colorful jump ropes and soccer balls they packed in their luggage. Sean and others will never forget the smiles and laughter and what a difference a few jump ropes would make.

As another pilgrim, Rena Calanca, stood in the cobblestone square in front of St. Paul the Apostle, a Jesuit parish in south central Peru, it struck her that jumping rope is a universal language. Girls, boys, and tweens wanted to try jumping for the first time while others couldn’t wait to show off their skills. Calanca reflects, “I was called to Peru to change and become like a child and welcome one in God’s name. That is what I came to Peru to do.”

St. Joe’s is committed to support the construction of a kitchen that will enable these children to receive at least one warm meal a day. Toward that goal, the parish will hold a “Simple Supper” on February 28, 2015, where they will serve food similar to what a daily meal would be at St. Paul in Peru. To continue their partnership with this Jesuit work, another pilgrimage to Peru is planned for June 12–19, 2015. 

For more information, contact Bill Burke at bburke@jesuits.org or 800-922-5327 
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