A UNIQUE celebration will take place in Cork this week when a Bantry priest will join fellow Irish diocesan priests who have ministered in Latin America with the Missionary Society of St James the Apostle, for a special mass and dinner with fellow missionaries, friends and supporters.
They will be joined by Bishop Pedro Bustamente from Sicuani in Peru, and Bishop Robert Hennessy from Boston.The Missionary Society of St James was founded in 1958 by Cardinal Richard Cushing of Boston.
The Society offers diocesan priests from English-speaking countries the opportunity to work on mission in the poor, developing countries of Latin America.
Priests join the Society for a period of five years during which they remain part of their home dioceses. Initially, the Society provided priests in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia, but it is now focused on Peru where its men work in dioceses in the High Andes, on the southern coast, and in various township areas around the capitol, Lima.
Retired Fr Joe McCarthy from Bantry explained the celebration, saying that this year the society is celebrating 60 years of service to the church in Latin America. ‘We began the celebrations in January with an event in Lima in Peru,’ he said. ‘There, we recognised the people from the parishes in which the St James’ priests ministered. The celebrations will continue in Cork on August 29th, where we will be honouring the people who participated in our missionary work. Many people – lay women and men and religious communities – as well as priests, have left Ireland to work in Latin America as a result of contact with the St James Society. Many of them will be present at the event, including sisters from the Bon Secours, the Mercy and Presentation congregations.’
Of the hundreds of priests who worked with the St James Society, many were Irish. These men were already serving in the US, England, Scotland, Wales, New Zealand and Australia. During his State visit to Peru in January last year, President Michael D Higgins met with members of the Society and other Irish missionaries working in Peru. The event takes place in the Commons Inn next Wednesday.