Annual Chimbote dinner contributes money, awareness

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Event highlights the special bond between Peru and Pittsburgh

John Franko
Staff Writer

As the camera panned across the desolate landscape, one image seemed to stand out.

Despite the great poverty that surrounded them, all of the people were smiling.

The camera came to focus on Bishop David Zubik, who stood in the midst of at least a dozen children.

I invite you to see the wonderful face of God, he said on the video.

Indeed, the face of God was evident on the faces of the people and it highlighted the great bond of love that exists between the people of Chimbote, Peru, and the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

The diocese celebrated that bond during the 45th Annual Peru Mission Dinner Oct. 21 at the Sheraton Station Square Hotel.

The dinner supports the Social Works Center, the diocesan mission in Chimbote. This years event raised $100,000, pushing the all-time total for the dinner past the $2.2 million mark.

In recalling his 2009 visit to the region with 10 seminarians from the diocese, Bishop Zubik pointed out that the mission allows the diocesan faithful to be the hands, face and hearts of Christ.

I saw firsthand the healing power of Christ reaching out from Pittsburgh to the people of Peru, he said.
Bishop Zubik recalled the efforts of Msgr. Jules Roos, the late Msgr. James Shanahan and all of those from the diocese who have served in Chimbote.

The bishop recognized the representatives of diocesan schools who support the mission, and he spoke of the importance of passing on the legacy of support to the people of Peru.

It is his hope, he noted, that the next generation will build an even stronger bridge of support to the region.
Father Robert Boyle, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi in Finleyville, served the mission for five years.

It was a real life-changer for me, he said of the experience. The support of the people of Pittsburgh was essential.
James Ferry II serves on the board of directors for the Chimbote Foundation. His grandfather was instrumental in the founding of the dinner.

Ferry echoed Bishop Zubiks call to future generations, adding, The work is not done. We must preserve, strengthen and pass on the legacy.

Among those in attendance at the dinner were representatives of the Chimbote Ambassadors. The program asks each diocesan school to designate two student leaders to help raise awareness for the mission and coordinate efforts to raise money for it.

During the 2009-10 school year, the program raised more than $47,000.
Prior to the dinner, Chimbote Ambassadors from 10 diocesan schools displayed a sampling of their projects and activities.

In addition, the Ambassadors program has raised more than $477,000 in the past 10 years. More than 80 schools, youth ministry and religious education programs took part in the project during the 2009-10 school year.

The Social Works Center or Centro de Obras Sociales is a multiservice health and educational facility that includes a maternity hospital, outpatient clinic, clinical laboratory, and education and specialty care programs.

Chimbote is a desert town of 350,000 people, located approximately 250 miles north of the capital city of Lima.
More information on the mission is available through the Chimbote Foundation at 412-456-3085, on the Web at www.chimbotefoundation.org, or by e-mailing stewardship@diopitt.org.