Support the bridge of love & hope

Sister Margaret Mary Birchmeier and Sister Lillian Bockheim, co-founders of the Social Works Center in Chimbote, share updates with narrator Mike Clark.

Supporters are being asked to again open their hearts to help the poor of Chimbote, Peru, who are suffering greatly in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Diocese of Pittsburgh began building a “bridge of love and hope” to Chimbote nearly 60 years ago when visiting priests saw a pressing need to provide health care to migrants and help address a high infant mortality rate.

A virtual Peru Mission Dinner is planned for Thursday, November 12, 2020. Instead of gathering in person, organizers have prepared a special online video presentation featuring updates from Sister Margaret Mary Birchmeier and Sister Lillian Bockheim, co-founders of the Social Works Center in Chimbote. The video is available at, where donations are gratefully accepted. Prayers are also deeply appreciated.

Bishop David Zubik said the pandemic has claimed the lives of numerous people of the Diocese of Chimbote, including the mission’s beloved medical director, Teresa Salinas Altuna, who worked tirelessly at the facility for more than 45 years.

“Teresa died in service to the Gospel by her service to the poor whom she dearly loved,” Bishop Zubik wrote in an appeal letter. “We grieve her passing, as we salute the nearly 170 staff who carry on the life-giving, life-sustaining Catholic healthcare ministry that the people of Pittsburgh have sustained over three generations.”

Significant progress has been made in Chimbote since Monsignor Jules Roos established a small maternity hospital in 1963. Over the decades it has expanded into a multi-service health and education center with the hospital, outpatient clinic, laboratory, pharmacy and orphanage.

In 2019, the 100,000th baby was born at the hospital, and earlier this year a new outpatient clinic was completed. The modern facility increases patient capacity by five times, allowing for expanded services in pediatrics, cardiology, ophthalmology, audiology and neurology.

“When confronted with extraordinary need, the compassion of the people of Pittsburgh and our Mission Partners is always amazing, but never surprising!” Bishop Zubik said. “Please open your hearts once again—especially this year—to our Chimbote family in great need.”

A local woman and her son during a home visit.
Chimbote residents receive care at the medical clinic.