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In 1993, Father Joseph Uhen, native of Milwaukee, who grew up in Oklahoma and graduated from the University of Notre Dame ’80, felt the call to serve the poor in Piura, Peru. He has been the pastor and only priest at Santísimo Sacramento Parish in Piura since then. He serves 40,000 faithful in Piura and the surrounding villages.
In January of 2013, six SJV parishioners, led by Father Ken Knippel, traveled to Santisimo Sacramento Parish in Piura, Peru with a mission group from St. Anthony on the Lake Parish in Pewaukee. They participated in the packing and delivery of the monthly food distributions and saw firsthand that every cent of your donation goes directly to the family you sponsor. The missionaries saw the difference this support makes in their lives. Based on the mission experience with Santisimo Sacramento during this visit, an international twinning relationship was approved as a SJV ministry.
In May of 2013, the Family to Family program was introduced to the SJV parish. In the first year of this ministry, over 80 Peruvian families have been sponsored by SJV parishioners and receive monthly food deliveries.
The first annual adult mission trip took place in January of 2014. Fifty-one parishioners and friends traveled to Piura for a week to work with the staff at Santisimo Sacramento. During this visit, missionaries built bamboo houses, laid bricks for a new chapel, painted in the parish school, delivered food packages, worked in the hospice, went on communion calls to the homebound, visited two orphanages in the community and shared their faith with the Santisimo Sacramento community at daily Mass. A seventeen member surgical team performed 26 hernia repairs in the parish clinic facility. An adult mission trip will take place each January.
This very poor desert region is approximately 600 miles north of Lima and 25 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. Sixty-three per cent of the people of Piura live in poverty and 22% percent live in extreme poverty. One of the most important ministries to the poor developed by Father Joe is the Family to Family Program.
1. Family to Family Sponsorship Program
Currently, over 1,400 Peruvian families are participating in this program, most of whom live in bamboo houses with dirt floors, and many without running water or electricity. When a father or mother goes out in the morning to look for work for the day, they are successful if they bring home a salary of $3.00–$5.00 per day. This meager salary is enough to feed a family for part of the month but does not cover all their needs. This is where the Family to Family Program helps. By sponsoring a family for $25 per month or $300 per year, you can provide a delivery of rice, beans, milk, oil and other necessities to help stretch the family grocery budget for the month. In addition to the food, you are engaging in a partnership of faith, hope and prayer by establishing a personal relationship where occasional letters and photos can be exchanged. After registration, you will receive a biography and photos of your sponsored family. We ask that you make a commitment of one year. You may continue to sponsor your family for as long as you wish. You will be able to develop a relationship with your Peruvian family via email through Santisimo Sacramento Parish. You can send family photos and letters about your family. Your sponsored family may write you back with details about their family but they do not have access to email. The social workers at the parish collect and deliver letters which we receive twice per year when Fr. Joe visit’s or the mission group travels to Piura. When the homes of the families were visited, we saw sponsor’s family photos hanging on the walls of the Peruvian homes.
2. Sponsor An Angel Program
at Mother of the Redeemer Girls Home
Our sister parish, Santísimo Sacramento, works with a girls home in Piura, Peru. Over 100 young girls, ages 8–18 and who are either orphans or whose families live in unsafe areas in the jungle or mountains of Peru, live in the home full-time. These girls are cared for by an order of Peruvian nuns who nurture, educate and care for these sweet girls. The facility includes dorms, a kitchen and dining area, classrooms and chapel. “Sponsor An Angel” is a program whereby a $100 donation per year provides the girls with a birthday gift, Christmas gift, and various other things needed such as basic clothing and personal hygiene items.
3. Medical Mission
In January of 2014, seventeen medical personnel from St. John Vianney and the Milwaukee community traveled with the SJV adult mission group to Santisimo Sacramento in Piura. Two surgeons performed 26 hernia repairs for people who otherwise would not have had access to these needed operations. Santisimo Sacramento has a medical clinic and surgical suite on-site at the parish facility.
Medical personnel needed for the surgical team include anesthesiologists, scrub nurses or scrub techs, operating room, pre-op or recovery room nurses and medical interpreters. A surgical team will be traveling with the SJV mission group again in January 2015.
Supplies and medications are required in order for the surgical team to perform these procedures. Donations or contacts with companies in the medical supply/pharmaceutical industry are needed. Please see the attached Medical Mission form for additional information.
If interested in joint the surgical team or donating to the medical mission, contact Michele Wallace at 262-844-4583 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Addtional Ministry Opportunities
“Family to Family” and “Sponsor An Angel” are just 2 of the programs that you may be interested in supporting. There are many others programs in need of support including: Girls’ Transitional Home; Mother of Good Counsel School; Women’s Shelter; New life Drug Rehab Center; Senior Center; Farmers; Santísimo Sacramento Medical Clinic; Casa Construction; In-Home Tiendas (general store); Los Angeles Hospice; and Santa Margarita Cemetary. The ministries brochure below gives a brief description of each of these programs.
Learn more about our Sister Parish in Piura, Peru.
When you stand at the edge of one of the many villages in Piura, Peru, you ask yourself: Can we make a difference? Is there really anything we can do?