NEWS CENTRE

Opening of Mercy Family Health Service in Lima

The Mercy Family Health Service (MFHS) in Cerro Candela, Lima, Peru was officially opened and blessed on Sunday March 30, 2008. About 25 Sisters of Mercy from Ireland, Peru, USA and Australia who are currently working on mission in Peru celebrated the special occasion with several hundred local residents. Special guests included the donors of the construction, representatives of the Australian Consulate in Lima and representatives of other institutions and organisations associated with the health service.

"I have come that you may have Life and have it to the full." (John 10:10)

After Joan Doyle RSM welcomed all and gave a short history of the MFHS, Dr Sandra Oblitas Barraza (Dr-in-Charge) thanked the donors, introduced the staff and spoke of how the MFHS is such a valuable health resource for the area. After several other speeches a group of small children from the Nutrition Program conducted by the MFHS then presented a dance in traditional dress which was followed by the beautiful Peruvian “Marinera” dance.

One of the highlights of the opening ceremony was a special Andean ritual to bless the “Pachamama” (Mother earth) prepared by two indigenous Peruvian women in traditional dress. The ritual consisted of a smoking ceremony with incense and a burial of some of the fruits of the earth (flower petals, seeds, etc.) in the indoor garden area of the new centre. The building was then blessed by the parish priest Columban Father Peter Woodruff and Father Joe Ruys, accompanied by the two Peruvian women with incense.

The celebration concluded with the cutting of the cake and a toast to the donors and a PowerPoint presentation of the history of the construction and the work of the MFHS.

Situated in Cerro Candela, a very poor area in the northern zone of Lima, the MFHS offers primary health care to a population of 13,000 people. The area has no running water and sewerage, no paved roads and has high levels of unemployment.

Sisters Joan Doyle, Patricia McDermott and Jackie Ford RSM from Australia have been ministering in the area since 1996.

Messages to: Sister Loreto Conroy RSM (Local Communications Facilitator, North Sydney)