Chimbote Foundation, Inc.
History and Mission
More than 40 years ago, the Diocese of Pittsburgh began to build a bridge of love and hope between the people of Pittsburgh and the needy in Chimbote, Peru.
Bishop John Wright, Bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh at that time, was the first architect of this bridge, and commissioned Father James Shanahan to be the first bridge builder in Peru, as the first Pittsburgh diocesan priest to serve there in the St. James Society.
Father Shanahan and other priests who followed soon after him - Father Jules Roos, Father Gerald Lutz, Father John Price - were the founders, the pioneers who laid the foundations for the bridge in Peru.
A few years later they would be joined by the Sisters of Mercy and still later by the Vincentian Sisters of Charity. Soon after Bishop Wright sent the first Pittsburgh missionaries to Peru, he invited laymen James Ferry and Frank Schneider to collaborate with him in building the bridge on the Pittsburgh end by initiating the Peru Mission Dinner, originally called the Chimbote Founders Day Dinner.
Joined by Andy Goyette and other founders in Pittsburgh, they worked with their counterparts serving as missionaries in Peru to complete the bridge. Over the years the bridge has been widened and strengthened as many have crossed it.
The Social Works Center in Chimbote, Peru, epitomizes the importance of that bridge spanning two continents. The original Social Works Center opened as an outpatient clinic and home for the elderly. In 1966, Monsignor Jules Roos decided to address the poverty in Chimbote by opening a maternity hospital where mothers could give birth in clean and comfortable surroundings. The alternative was for women to continue to deliver their babies in very unhealthy conditions at home.
Monsignor Roos sought the assistance of the Dominican Sisters from Grand Rapids, Michigan, who served as nurse midwives at the Maternity Hospital. The first facility was very humble and primitive by today's standards, but it flourished and grew into the bustling Maternidad de Maria hospital in Chimbote, well-known throughout Peru.
Today the maternity hospital is a 26- bed facility which delivers over 300 babies each month. Mothers are taught the importance of good hygiene and pre-natal care and return with their babies after delivery to learn healthcare techniques that will give their babies a better chance to survive in a harsh environment of poverty and suffering.
Much of the support for this maternity hospital crosses the bridge linking Pittsburgh and Peru, bringing also an abundance of love and hope.