By Karissa Rangel
LOGOS FEATURES EDITOR
Former Incarnate Word missionaries to Chimbote, Peru, will share their experiences at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 6, in Room 215 of the Administration Building.
Tessa Cornally, 28, of Cork, Ireland, and Jackie Greene, 23, of Chicago, will share their work while living two years in a community of the poor of the coastal fishing town about 275 miles north of Lima.
Cornally worked with preschool children and teachers, as well as with a local community clinic. Greene worked with dying patients and their families at a Christus-owned hospice, while also supporting a women’s group called Pushaq Warmi, or Guiding Women, that runs a women’s rights radio program and a fiber arts business collective.
The Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word – founders of the University of the Incarnate Word — and the nonprofit Women’s Global Connection – one of its ministries — are now formally teamed up as implementing partners for the Incarnate Word Missionaries (IWM) Program. WGC is a ministry that initiates women’s and girls’ empowerment programs locally and globally, with missionaries long working for several of its international programs.
After a weeklong orientation in early September, the IWM program’s two new missionaries boarded a flight on Labor Day, Sept. 7, to begin their new lives in Chimbote. There, they joined missionary Nicholena Vranicar, 35, who is in her second year of service. She works to build the artisan craft business of Pushaq Warmi, while also consulting with preschool teachers in partnership with Sembrando Infancia.
The educational orientation week for the new missionaries in San Antonio began with a Mass and a blessing in front of the Incarnate Word community, honoring Kristen Amaro, 22, a UIW graduate, and Yvonne Moynihan, a 44-year-old educator from Cork. Both Amaro and Moynihan have each chosen to give a year of their life in service to the people of Chimbote.
Amaro, who graduated from UIW in May 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in biology, said she’s always been called to help through healthcare. Originally from El Paso, she said she aspires to become a physician and sees working in the Peruvian hospice clinic as a “perfect combination.”
Moynihan said she felt the call to become a missionary when she saw a pamphlet at University College Cork (UCC) where she earned a bachelor’s degree in international development and food policy. While in Chimbote, Moynihan, who has prior experience teaching children English in Barcelona, Spain, will be working with technology and young kids at Pedro Pablo Atusparias School.
While Moynihan’s orientation started in Dublin, the two missionaries’ arrival in San Antonio kicked off a crash course in the Charism of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word and Catholic social teaching on Aug. 31. A week of learning, reflection and prayer ultimately prepared them for their arrival and continuing orientation in Peru.
Incarnate Word missionaries in Peru generally work in healthcare at free clinics and hospice, or in jail ministry, pastoral work, education, street kids outreach, and other human rights projects.
WGC works to empower women, families and communities in Chimbote through their early childhood education programs and their partnership with the women’s group Pushaq Warmi.
Chimbote is a city on the Pacific coast. Although it has a desert climate, it has the largest fishing port in Peru. The sudden boom in the fishing industry made Chimbote the “Working Capital” of Peru, with a population of approximately 334,568.
Ada Gonzalez, WGC’s associate director of education and formation, has been to Chimbote five times since 2010 and oversaw Amaro and Moynihan’s orientation in San Antonio.
“The first thing that strikes you is the vibrant city life and the entrepreneurial spirit of the people,” Gonzalez said of Chimbote. “It is a large city whose citizens are very poor, and it’s so densely populated that it has potential for economic growth.”
IWM has programs in San Antonio, Mexico, Tanzania, Zambia and Peru. Men and women over 21, single or married without dependents, are welcome to become missionaries. The program requires applicants to have a high school diploma, although a college degree is preferred.
Missionary commitment contracts are on a yearly basis, although they can be renewed. The IWM program pays for transportation to the country the missionary chooses to serve in, as well as covers housing and basic living expenses abroad and a small stipend. Some foreign language fluency is required and student loans can be deferred while a missionary is actively serving in the program.
Cornally said she treasures her experience in Chimbote.
“The past two years living as an Incarnate Word missionary have been a time of great personal development and spiritual growth for me,” Cornally said. “This was mainly thanks to the community I lived with and the many relationships built during this time. I am very grateful to have been able to take part in this program.”
Eager to leave for Peru, Amaro said she’s found herself doing a lot of explaining to friends and family about her desire to become a missionary.
“I think some people had questions about me doing this because I’m not getting paid,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of jobs, but this job is going to mean the most in fulfillment for me.”