March 8 – IN PERU
In April 1961, Br. Romain Landry, Provincial of Montreal, responding to the call of the Holy Father in favour of Latin America, made a trip to explore the needs of the continent, from Mexico to Rio-de-Janeiro. His visit to Peru enabled him to meet, at Pucallpa in the midst of the Amazon forest, with Mgr Prevost, Canadian Bishop expelled from China, and who had set up in this small town a school with a boarding. He decided to send there three Brothers in March 1962.
After a trial without follow-up in 1963 in a school in Lima run by the Franciscans, the Brothers withdrew from Pucallpa and in May 1964 agreed to work, helped by the Spanish Brothers, in two schools belonging to the national marine corps: the Guise school at Lima for children of officers, and the Clavero school at Ventanilla for children of non-commissioned officers. After first running them, they decided only to teach there.
In 1971, a nw work, educational and pastoral, started in the St Louis Mary de Montfort parish at Nafia, in the outskirts of Lima. It was run by the Montfort Fathers who had arrived in Peru in 1861 (the Daughters of Wisdom would go there two years later).
The year 1974 saw at the same time the activities at Nafia and at the navy’s school in Lima, the return to Pucallpa and a new orientation to the school in Ventanilla. At Pucallpa, from 1974 to 1990, the Brothers devoted themselves to pastoral for the families, the sick and the prisoners, and they brought out the first manual on religion in the diocese for primary and secondary school pupils. At Ventanilla, they were mainly busy-with school-related activities-(catechesis, sports, various movements)-and- animated, in the final years, at Ventanilla and in a neighbouring town, two basic communities and seven charismatic groups.
When the Brothers’ presence ended at Ventanilla in 1985, one other started at Villa Sol, Lima, in the St Martin de Porres parish, and still oriented to pastoral: vocations, Legion of Mary, chaplaincy of an orphanage and national direction of charismatic groups. When it ended in 1991, the Brothers returned to Nafia and continued there a work similar to the one at Villa Sol.
The last two Brothers returned to Canada for good in the beginning of 1996, putting an end to 34 years of diversified and fruitful Gabrielite presence in Peru. Only two Brothers remained at the cemetery of Callao: the founder, Br. Barnabe Allaire who died in 1966, and the last arrival, Br. Gerard Savoie, who died of an infarctus in 1990, three weeks after his arrival.
Through a strange coincidence, three of the fifteen missionaries, who succeeded one another in Peru, died in Canada in 1998: Br. Orner Deschenes, Br. Raymond Gaudet and Br. Conrad Cantin. They had spent there 9, 25 and 31 years respectively.