To recognize her exceptional work for The Chimbote Foundation and her great compassion for the poor, Foundation board member Gretchen Roos received the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Papal Honor on September 24 from Bishop David Zubik. The award is the highest honor that can be awarded to the laity by the pope.

The Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice (“For the Church and the Pope”) cross and certificate are given for distinguished service to the church. The honor is based on the recommendation of the Diocesan Bishop, with final approval by the Vatican.

Ms. Roos is the niece of Msgr. Jules Roos, one of the founding members of the Chimbote Mission. Her family has been supporting the mission in various ways since its inception. Her father, Ken Roos, was the architect for many of the buildings at the Center for Social Works, including the maternity hospital.

Ms. Roos expressed her gratitude for this award by remembering her uncle and her father’s life-long, compassionate service to the people of Chimbote, noting that she is honored to continue their legacy.

Since joining the board in 2009, Ms. Roos has made contributions that will help the Chimbote Foundation and Mission continue to meet the needs of the poor in Peru for decades to come. Over a seven-month period in 2015, a 17-member ad hoc committee chaired by Ms. Roos, consisting of members of the Foundation Board and senior staff from Chimbote, developed a three-year strategic plan to prioritize the most critical needs of the Center for Social Works. That plan, adopted unanimously by Bishop Zubik and the Foundation Board, named the Mission Milestone Investment (MMI) project, aims to invest an additional $1 million to expand the mission’s outreach and improve services to the poor of Chimbote.

The cornerstone of the MMI project is to replace the small outpatient clinic with a large, new modern facility to adequately serve the thousands of residents who seek treatment there each month. The new clinic is nearing completion and will dramatically increase and improve patient services over the current Posta Medica (Medical Clinic). The building will include equipment for new and expanded services, such as mammography and radiology, providing these life-saving treatments to the poor of Chimbote.

Knowing that the mission’s Home Visit Program is vital for the most impoverished residents who cannot even afford to travel to the Posta Medica, Ms. Roos has consistently advocated for the MMI plan to increase home visits significantly. The MMI also includes funds to expand the program for abandoned, abused and orphaned children who are entrusted to the Padre Julio Children’s Center and Shelter. This 24/7 on-site facility, named in memory of Ms. Roos’ uncle, is a program Msgr. Roos cherished, and one that she holds close to heart as a mother herself.

Most recently, Ms. Roos has been working behind the scenes to utilize today’s technology to increase awareness of and support for the Chimbote Mission. For example, she organized efforts to establish the Foundation’s new, comprehensive website. She is constantly working to engage more people and businesses to help with the mission work. After multiple trips to Peru, she knows first-hand how dedicated the Chimbote Mission staff members are as they work to help the local people, and she wants to do everything in her power to sustain their efforts.

As a long-time supporter of the Chimbote Mission, and as a leader and advocate for the Mission Milestone Investment initiative, Ms. Roos has given generously of her time, talent, and treasure. We thank her for her exceptional service to the poor through the Chimbote Mission. As stated in the program for the award ceremony, “The commitment of these individuals to the Holy Father and the Church has been a profound blessing to the Diocese of Pittsburgh.”

^ ABOVE: Bishop David Zubik presents the award to Gretchen Roos at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Msgr. Jules Roos, Beth Roos and Gretchen Roos during a visit to Peru

Gretchen holds a baby during a home visit in Chimbote.

Gretchen with children during a home visit in Chimbote.

Gretchen, her son Andrew, and family friend Kate Girdhar (right) go on home visits with Sr. Lillian Bockheim, OP (center), and nurses from the mission.

Gretchen, Mrgr. Roos, and family friend Dr. Robin Girdhar, spend time with the orphans.

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