Friday, November 03, 2006 - Updated: 12:01 amWhen a baby was left abandoned outside the doors of the Social Works Center in Chimbote, Peru, the note that was attached simply said his name was Sebastian.
The name was in honor of St. Sebastian Parish in Ross Township. For the past 31 years, the youth group at the parish has supported the Chimbote mission through its Lenten play.
Last year, some $11,000 was raised for the mission.
That?s just one of many ways the diocese has supported the Social Works Center.
The diocese again recognized the 4,000-mile bridge of love between Pittsburgh and the people of Chimbote at the 41st Annual Peru Mission Dinner Oct. 26 at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel.
?The need is great as we continue to realize,? said Aux. Bishop Paul Bradley, diocesan administrator. ?And it doesn?t go away.?
The Social Works Center, which consists of a maternity hospital, outpatient clinic and laboratory, treats some 17,000 patients and delivers approximately 300 babies a month.
More than 80,000 babies have been born at the maternity hospital in its 40-year history. In all, the center has treated nearly 5 million people since it was founded in 1966.
This year?s gathering once again recognized Pittsburgh native Msgr. Jules Roos and Dominican Sisters Lillian Backheim and Margaret Mary Birchmeier, who have long served in the region.
Bishop Bradley said all Christians are called to have a missionary spirit. Whether it?s toward people next door, or those 4,000 miles away.
He noted that while the dinner constitutes one meeting a year, we must remember the missions daily.
?We can never underestimate the power of prayer,? he said.
?Several dozen members of the diocesan School Ambassadors program were in attendance. During the past eight years, young people throughout the diocese have raised more than $300,000 for the Chimbote Mission through a variety of activities.
?They have come to realize what the missionary spirit is all about,? Bishop Bradley said.
The dinner also included a reflection by Dr. Mari-Kim Bunnell, a Boston physician who has visited the mission with her children.
?I urge you not to forget the people of Chimbote,? she said. ?They are?just like us and they need our help.?
WTAE-TV news anchor Mike Clark served as the master of ceremonies. A member of St. Maurice in Forest Hills, Clark visits schools throughout the diocese to speak on behalf of the mission.
Clark?s documentation of his 2000 visit to Chimbote captured several awards.
The Peru Mission Dinner was initiated by Bishop John Wright in 1966 and has raised more than $2 million for the mission.
More information on the mission is available at: www.chimbotefoundation.org.