Member Experiences


I absolutely love our Sicuani mission in the Southern Andes of Peru

Sr. Eileen Egan

I have been a Sister of IHM for 50 years now. I was taught by the IHMs at Sacred Heart School, Mt. Holly, NJ. It was such a delightful experience that I was inspired to join the Sisters of IHM.

I've been stationed in Peru for almost 30 years, which has allowed me to cross a culture and share life with the people of the Andes of Peru. I´m creative and love the adventure of life. It´s a challenge to invent new things out of discarded "stuff", but that's how recycling happens here. I get a kick out of it.

I've done Religious Education workshops on a local and national level. My college degrees were approved by the Peruvian Department of Education after passing a written and oral test in Spanish at the Catholic University here in Peru. This has enabled me to obtain a tenured teaching position, which presently I am collecting a small retirement pension from.

In Peru, I'm basically a teacher (because of the lack of books here, I´ve been able to modify the elementary religion programs and produce charts for classroom use). The Peruvian National Religious Education Office has even asked permission to reproduce some of my work!

I'm very passionate about our Sicuani mission in the Southern Andes of Peru. Several years ago, we noticed that parents from the outlying areas rented a room in town and enrolled their sons in secondary school. It was obvious that girls were not included in the plan. Our Congregation had taken a stand at its General Chapter in 1996 to empower women. We saw this as an opportunity to respond to the challenge of opening an IHM House of Studies so that young women from the mountains could have a chance to go to high school. It took a few years of Grant writing and parent meetings to encourage them to educate their daughters. But finally, in 1998 a house was purchased and the first students arrived!

The girls now have the option of enrolling in five public high schools in town. Each night we pray together, reading the gospel for the following day. They help with the chores and have ample time for study. Once a month we celebrate birthdays together and every weekend the girls hike home to help their parents on the farm and return on Monday morning for another week of studies. It's a challenge accompanying 20 teenagers but we rejoice at the mature young women they become. Many are now in University studies-- An IHM Success story.

On one occasion a woman approached me after liturgy, holding a pile of clothes. She explained that her husband was sick and he sent his clothes to be blessed since he was unable to come himself. I felt touched by the poor man's faith and asked God to give me the best words to pray for him. Blessing his pants, I prayed that his legs would be strong so that he could arise from his bed and help his family...on the shirt, that his arms would recover their strength in order to work his field. ...the hat, that he would always remember how much he is cared for by our loving God. Those kinds of experiences deepen my own relationship with God.

On another occasion a woman came to register for Baptism. As I was peeling apples in the kitchen she asked if she could have the peels to make juice for her children. "Of course", I said!!! This is why it's such a privilege for me to be here.

Phil, the vagabond, visits almost every day. When the bread and coffee are served, he kneels down, raises his arms to heaven and gives thanks. Sometimes he tells me that he won´t be able to make it tomorrow but, that he´ll be back on Wednesday. I love it!

My best gift is sharing the Word of God. Presently I celebrate liturgies in our small Andean parish. On Wednesday evenings I pray with the police reflecting on the Sunday gospel with them. At the diocesan level I coordinate and teach in an adult theology school which operates on Thursday evenings. On a regular basis our parish team visits the six communities of our parish out in the mountains to hold monthly meetings with the lay catechists from there.

On my free time, I enjoy a slow cup of coffee at morning prayer, gazing out my window at the majestic Andes Mountains. I contemplate the night sky, sing to a spectacular sunset, and work for social justice.  I also like to read and walk (but not at the same time!), work in the garden, and contact family and friends by e-mail.  It would be impossible for me to give up my faith, hope and love of God and God´s people. I hope to be remembered as a joyful, loving IHM Sister. I am grateful to God for the gift of health which enables me to continue in the mission to serve.

I volunteer as need presents itself, and am very interested in supporting The Roman Catholic Church and the Propagation of the Faith in my home diocese of Trenton, NJ, which allows me to do mission sharing to support this apostolate in Peru.