'Blessed by your generosity'

Tuesday, October 30, 2018 - Updated: 9:41 am

By JOHN FRANKO Staff Writer

With all that has been going on in the diocese, it was only natural that there would be questions about how it would affect attendance at the 53rd Annual Peru Mission Dinner.

Dr. Patrick Joyce, director of the Office for Stewardship and assistant executive director of the Chimbote Foundation, visited a number of parishes on behalf of the event. At St. Joseph Parish in O’Hara Township, he asked if there was anyone in the congregation who could use a little good news about the Catholic Church. 

They laughed, but the parish responded by filling four tables at the mission dinner. They were among the 620 people — the second highest total ever — to attend the Oct. 18 dinner at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel. The total was exceeded only by the 50th anniversary dinner in 2015.

“The story of our mission in Chimbote is the story of the Good News of the Gospel,” Joyce said. “The Catholic Church has always served the poor from the time of Jesus until today. Chimbote, for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, is an important part of our history and our legacy.”

The gathering included Chimbote Ambassadors from Catholic schools and religious education programs, as well as a contingent from the campus ministry program at Robert Morris University. Also in attendance were members of the Chimbote mission teams.

“To be on mission is what we are and what we do,” said Bishop David Zubik. The bishop visited with Chimbote Ambassadors who shared samples of their projects prior to the dinner.

The honored guests once again included Dominican Sisters Margaret Mary Birchmeier and Lillian Bockheim, who co-founded the Center for Social Works in Chimbote with the late Msgr. Jules Roos in 1966; and Msgr. John Kozar, a priest of the diocese who is president of the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.

“We have made our home there and it is because you have made your home there,” Sister Margaret Mary said.

The Chimbote Foundation honored WTAE-TV’s Mike Clark, longtime mission supporter and dinner emcee, by announcing the establishment of the Mike Clark Travel Award, a $1,000 grant that will allow a college student to be a member of a mission team each year.

Gretchen Roos, the niece of Msgr. Roos and chairwoman of the Chimbote strategic planning committee, spoke of the overwhelming success of the Mission Milestone Investment project that has already exceeded its $1 million goal in just three years.

“The people in Chimbote have been greatly blessed by your generosity,” she said.

James Ferry II, chairman of the ad hoc facilities study committee of the Chimbote Foundation board, outlined efforts in the expansion of the children’s center and patient therapy program.

The Center for Social Works consists of a maternity hospital, outpatient clinic, clinical laboratory, pharmacy and a home for abandoned children. It also sponsors a home visit program that aids “the poorest of the poor.”

Bishop David Zubik will lead “From Pittsburgh to Peru,” a pilgrimage to Chimbote and Lima, Feb. 21-27 of next year. The trip will include a visit to the Center for Social Works and the grave of Msgr. Roos. Bishop Zubik will join Bishop Angel Francisco Simon Piorno of Chimbote in celebrating a Mass. An add-on excursion to Machu Picchu, a 15th-century Inca citadel in the Andes Mountains, is offered. Space is limited to 45 people.

For information, e-mail Sue O’Keefe at sokeefe@diopitt.org or call 412-456-3065. Details also are available by e-mailing Belinda Held at belinda@apilgrimsjourney.com or calling 724-679-7450.

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