Parish’s strong link with Lima

parish-banner-for-south-wodenA strong link with Lima, Peru was made evident when Canberra’s Mary Help of Christians South Woden (Pearce) Parish convened to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the dedication of their church of the Sacred Heart.

The link with Peru involves the parish’s former Antioch youth group which happened to be the first of its kind in the ACT.

On one weekend in the early 1980’s, South Woden parishioners were joined by a visiting priest with a missionary persuasion who left an imprint on the young Catholics of Pearce.

At the time, the visiting priest was home in Australia on leave from his ministry as chaplain to the parishioners of a jail in the South American country.

In a talk given to members of the Antioch group, he explained to the parish about the needs of the prisoners who were often incarcerated for life and confined to living in a deplorable and degrading establishment, often without hope.

The priest asked the youth of South Woden parish to pray for the Lima prisoners, which they undertook without question.

Upon returning to Peru, the priest who admired the Antioch concept, immediately informed the inmates that a youth group in the ACT was praying for them and their seemingly hopeless situation.

So impressed by the gesture of good will which was going on in Canberra, the prisoners then produced a hand-woven banner and sent it to the Antioch group at South Woden.

Long-time parishioners Mike and Pat Doherty, have been active members in the parish since the parish was first formed in February 1968.  Their children were involved in the Antioch movement from its inception.

It is they who are the caretakers of the hand-woven banner, which they have kept as a memory of the correspondence.

Whilst acknowledging that Antioch hasn’t run for some time, Mr Doherty was adamant that the prisoners in Lima have not been forgotten from their perspective.

“Antioch Pearce has moved on, but prayers for the prisoners in Lima and for the Universal Church continue,” he said.

  • Anyone who remembers the visit and in particularly the priest’s name, it would be greatly appreciated if they can make contact with John at the Catholic Voice. He may be contacted by mobile on 0400 356 177 or by email at