Meet the people who have the privilege of leading the effort to ensure the continued care of the poor in Chimbote.
Chimbote Mission Partners
In July 2020, Manuela Caceres was named as the interim director of the Social Work Center and oversees the staff of more than 120 individuals. Manuela has been employed at the Center since 1982 and worked closely with the former director, Teresa Salinas Altuna, for many years. Her willingness to step up as interim director has enabled the Center to continue operating as seamlessly as possible under the pandemic restrictions that are still in place in Chimbote.
Sr. Margaret Mary (Maggie) Birchmeier
Sr. Maggie grew up on a farm in Michigan as the 11th of 12 children in her family – a challenging but very fruitful and happy family life! She was privileged to be taught by the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids, Michigan, for her primary and secondary education, joining the order upon graduation. As a Dominican Sister, she earned a BA from Aquinas College, graduated from Mercy Central School of Nursing and worked in Santa Rosa, New Mexico, for almost three years. Sr. Maggie was then called to study Midwifery with the Medical Mission Sisters at the Catholic Maternity Institute in preparation with joining our Sisters in Chimbote, Peru, to help establish a Maternity Infant Care Facility.
After receiving her certificate as a Certified Nurse Midwife in 1965, Chimbote became her home and her ministry. Sr. Maggie’s faith, family, friends and fidelity to her Baptismal and Religious vows have been the pillars of her religious life. “My professional life has kept pace with the changing times. But, the best classroom of learning has been the challenges and experience of daily living and serving the poor of Chimbote. My hope is that, as we continue to walk and serve together, God’s healing mercy and love will continue to touch the lives of His beloved poor.” Now serving in Chimbote for over 50 years, Sr. Maggie and her unwavering devotion to the poor and their medical and spiritual needs inspires all who are privileged to know her.
Sr. Lillian Bockheim
Sr. Lillian was born on March 15, 1938, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the eighth of nine children. Both grade school and high school were taught by the Grand Rapids Dominican Sisters. After graduation from high school, Sr. Lillian entered the Dominican Sisters and attended St. Joseph School of Nursing. Upon receiving her nursing degree, Sr. Lillian worked in several Catholic missions, moving from Grand Rapids to Alberquerque and Santa Rosa New Mexico and to and El Centro California (starting her initial immersion into the Spanish language!).
In 1967, Sr. Lillian was commissioned to Chimbote Peru to serve as a catechist, nurse and mid-wife with the Dominican Community and the St. James Priests who had been serving in Chimbote since 1963. The dire needs of the numerous people living in poverty in the slums of Chimbote were immediately evident. Sr. Lillian’s role expanded over time to develop and lead the home visiting program, a critical piece of the services provided at the Maternidad, where the nurses travel to the slums of those unable to make it to the Social Works Center. As a practicing and coordinating nurse in the outpatient department, Sr. Lillian has fully lived the Gospel mission to take care of the least of our brothers. In all of her work, Sr. Lillian consistently and compassionately brings to the people of Chimbote a true sense of hope and dignity in their otherwise impoverished world.
Bishop Ángel Francisco Simón Piorno
Bishop Simón was born in Zamora, Spain. Making the decision to follow God’s call as a priest, he studied in both Europe and Peru until ordained in 1973. Serving first as a pastor in Jaen, Peru, then as Bishop of Chachapoyas, he was named Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Cajamarca in 1992. In 1995, he was named as the 3rd Bishop to the Diocese of Chimbote and continued to hold various senior and administrative and commission roles, including President of the Commission for Clergy for 12 years, President on the Finance Committee for six years, and the delegate for the Latin American Episcopal Conference for six years. As Bishop of Chimbote, he has taken an active interest in the Center for Social Works – Maternidad de Maria and has attended the Annual Chimbote Foundation Dinner at least three times. Bishop Simón greatly admires and respects the work of the Center, praising its mission to value life in all its aspects and to reach out to the poor with love and charity.
Monsignor Jules Roos (“Padre Julio”)
Msgr. Jules Roos was the third of five boys born to Marie and Jules Roos in the Bellevue area of Pittsburgh. After elementary school at the local parish, Jules followed his older brothers to North Catholic High School for his secondary education. Following God’s call to serve in the priestly life, Jules was ordained on May 26th, 1956, and served in three different local parishes during his early years. He was called to serve with the Saint James Society in Latin America, arriving in Chimbote in the summer of 1964. Joining Msgr. Jim Shanahan of the Pittsburgh Diocese and Father Ray Moore of the San Diego Diocese as parish priests, the three quickly saw the overwhelming squalor in their community. Most pressing was the need to provide affordable health care (particularly to meet maternal and child care needs, as one in five babies did not survive) and an adequate education to the older children.
Through their dedication, two long-term institutions were born that still thrive today: Mundo Major, the secondary school opened under the direction of Fr. Gerald Lutz; and the initial Maternity Hospital, which has grown from a two-bed “hospital” to the exceptional hospital and Social Works Center it is today.
The celebration of the daily Eucharist was focus of his life and neither earthquakes, floods nor terrorists ever clouded his vision to answer God´s call to serve the poor, the sick, the needy, the abandoned and the orphans. Padre Julio was tireless in his efforts which continued until his death in February of 2013. Under his guiding spirit, which remains constant in his absence, the Center continues to carry on his dedication bringing the Good News and the loving and compassionate medical, social and spiritual care to those most in need.
Bishop David A. Zubik
Bishop David A. Zubik was born September 4, 1949, in Sewickley, Pennsylvania, and attended Catholic schools in Ambridge. He entered Saint Paul Seminary in Pittsburgh and went on to study at Saint Mary Seminary and University in Baltimore, Maryland, where he earned a degree in theology in 1975. He was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh on May 3, 1975. He served in the role of adjunct spiritual director at Saint Paul Seminary from 1984 through 1991 and associate spiritual director at Saint Vincent Seminary, Latrobe, from 1989 through 1996. In 1987, Bishop Zubik was appointed Administrative Secretary to then-Pittsburgh Bishop Anthony J. Bevilacqua and, in 1988, he was appointed Administrative Secretary and Master of Ceremonies to then-Pittsburgh Bishop Donald W. Wuerl. On January 1, 1996, he became Vicar General and General Secretary. Bishop Zubik was consecrated a bishop on April 6, 1997, and was appointed auxiliary bishop of the Diocese of Pittsburgh. On October 10, 2003, Pope John Paul II, named Bishop Zubik as the Eleventh Bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay where he was installed as Bishop on December 12, 2003. On July 18, 2007, he was named by Pope Benedict XVI as the Twelfth Bishop of Pittsburgh. He was installed at Saint Paul Cathedral in Pittsburgh on September 28, 2007. “The Diocese of Pittsburgh began a very special relationship with the people of Chimbote, Peru, under Bishop John Wright, nearly seven decades ago when he was bishop of Pittsburgh. What is it like in Chimbote? Chimbote today is a city of 700,000, roughly 250 miles north of Lima. It is a land of desperate poverty. A land where hope is hard to come by. But it is a land where the church has been able to make an extraordinary difference. And bring hope alive! And that hope comes from the Church of Pittsburgh.”
Mike Clark has been anchoring the news at WTAE in Pittsburgh since 1995. A 1985 graduate of St. John’s University in New York, Mike is married with four children. His work as a news anchor, reporter and writer has been recognized for its excellence by numerous organizations, such as the Emmys, the Golden Quill and the Associated Press, including multiple recognitions for work covering Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis. Included among his many honors are the 2002 Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Fraternal Societies of Greater Pittsburgh, a Cardinal Fulton Sheen Television Award in New York City for his series of reports on the Chimbote Mission in Peru in 2000, and the Cardinal Donald Wuerl Flame of Hope Award in 2009 for his commitment to serving the poor. As a long-standing Chimbote Foundation board member and emcee of the annual Chimbote Mission Dinner, Mike remains strongly committed to the work of the Center. “From the moment I saw Msgr. Roos at the Posta Medica, helping patient after patient, I felt I was in the presence of a saintly man. To witness the work of Padre Julio, Sister Maggie, Sister Lillian and their staff … it was one of the great blessings I have received in my journalism career. Not only did we document history, we encountered Christ in Action in Chimbote.”
James R. Ferry
Jim is past chairman, president and owner of Ferry Electric Company, a Pittsburgh-based electrical contracting firm founded in 1926. He has been married for more than 50 years to Mary Carleen Hogan, with whom he has four children and ten grandchildren. His father, James J. Ferry, returned from a trip to Peru in 1963 where he had met with Pittsburgh native, Monsignor Jules Roos, in Chimbote. After seeing the work Monsignor Roos and the Dominican Sisters were trying to do, he suggested the idea of a fundraising “Chimbote dinner” to Cardinal (then Pittsburgh Bishop) Wright. With the support of Bishop Wright, the first Chimbote dinner was organized by Mr. Ferry in 1964. Various Pittsburgh attendees, including Lou Tambellini, Nick Cardello, Bill Seach and Ed Ryan, covered all the expenses; and 100% of the $100-dollar-a-plate meal went to the Chimbote mission. Thanks to the good work of the priests and sisters in Chimbote and the generosity of Pittsburghers, the dinner and much-needed support for the mission remains strong. James R. Ferry and his son, James J. Ferry II, both now serve on The Chimbote Foundation Board.
James J. Ferry II
Jim is owner and president of Ferry Electric Company, a third-generation commercial, institutional and light industrial electrical contracting firm located in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. He is active in his industry by serving as president of the board of directors of the National Electrical Contractors Association of Western PA and trustee on the Western PA Electrical Employees Benefits Funds, among other positions. He is married with three children. Jim is proud to follow both his father, James R. Ferry, and grandfather, James J. Ferry, in support of the Chimbote Mission by serving as a member of the board and looks forward to continuing to support the good work being performed at the Center for Social Works and the Maternidad de Maria.
Monsignor John E. Kozar
Based in New York, NY, Monsignor Kozar, a priest of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, is the President of Catholic Near East Welfare Association, a papal agency which serves Eastern Catholic Churches in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Northeast Africa and India. This agency offers pastoral and humanitarian support to those who suffer and are persecuted on behalf of the Holy Father. Monsignor Kozar has been involved with the Chimbote Foundation from its very beginning and has served as the Chairman of the Peru Mission Dinner for 18 years, prior to moving to New York where he has worked since 2001. Monsignor Kozar has visited Peru with groups on more than 25 pastoral visits. As a former Mission Office Director in the Diocese of Pittsburgh, he has given many presentations about the mission presence in Chimbote, Peru. Monsignor Kozar continues to serve as a member of the Chimbote Foundation Board of Directors.
Monsignor Ronald Lengwin
Monsignor Ronald Lengwin has been an officer and member of the Chimbote Foundation for many years. He is the Episcopal Vicar for Church Relations and the Chief Spokesperson for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. He also directs the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, the Mission Office, Catholic Relief Services and the Pilgrimage Office. He was inspired in this work by incredible stories about life in Chimbote told to him by Monsignor Jules Roos and Monsignor John Kozar for many years.
Eugene D. McCarthy, PhD
Eugene has been a Board member since 1991. His first contact with the Chimbote mission goes back to 1968 when he and his wife spent a year in Chimbote, working closely with Sisters Margaret Mary and Lillian, as well as with the late Monsignor Jules Roos. That experience helped shape a lifelong commitment to this mission. Following a career in development work at the World Bank in Washington, DC, from 1972-2000, he has maintained a close contact with Chimbote, visiting the Maternity hospital and its related activities on a regular basis and collaborating closely with other board members to help ensure its continuity.
Sister Nathalie Meyer, OP
Sr. Nathalie is a Dominican Sister from Grand Rapids, Michigan and a member of the same congregation as Sr. Margaret Mary and Sr. Lillian. “Several years ago, Msgr. Jules asked one of our sisters to serve on the board to represent the congregation. During my term as Prioress of the congregation, I replaced Sister Elizabeth when her ministry changed and she had to drop off the Board. It has truly been a wonderful experience as our congregation partners with the Diocese of Pittsburgh to continue this unbelievable work with the poor of Chimbote. The Center is an oasis of love and compassion and speaks of God’s mercy and love. It is truly a privilege to serve on a board so dedicated to the mission. I am looking forward to my next visit to Peru, to witness, once again, the work of the missionaries from Pittsburgh and Michigan for over 50 years.”
Deacon Tim Noca
Tim Noca is a Deacon in the Diocese of Pittsburgh and the President of ProTech Professional Technical Services, Inc. Married with three children, Tim has led three groups in the life-changing experience of traveling to Chimbote. Inspired by the legacy of Msgr. Jules Roos and the continued work of Sisters Lillian Bockheim and Margaret Mary Birchmeier, Tim has been tremendously impacted by the visits. “Mission trips provide the opportunity to see just how powerful it is to come face-to-face with Jesus in his greatest disguise – the poorest of the poor. Being a first-hand witness to how people live in the barrios of Chimbote has eliminated the phrase ‘I need’ from our home.”
Gretchen L. Roos, Esquire
Gretchen is an attorney for PPG in Pittsburgh, specializing in global ethics and compliance issues and is married with three children. She is the niece of Monsignor Jules Roos, the missionary priest who served with extraordinary dedication and compassion in Chimbote for nearly 50 years. Gretchen joined the Board in 2009, taking the place of her father, Ken Roos (brother of Jules), who was the architect of several of the Center’s buildings and for many years provided critical supplies from the U.S. In 2017, Gretchen was presented with the Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice Papal Honor for her distinguished service to the church. “The Chimbote Mission holds a very special place in my family’s heart. It is an honor and a blessing to carry on in some small way the exceptional work and devotion of my Uncle Jules (‘Padre Julio’) and my dad to help the poor in Chimbote.”
Tom is President of Shanahan Transportation Systems, Inc., a family business he started with his father, Robert E. Shanahan, brother of Monsignor James Shanahan. Msgr. Shanahan was the first priest from the St. James Society assigned to the mission in Chimbote. His steadfast leadership and determination helped attract many priests, nuns and medical professionals to join the effort in Chimbote, including Monsignor Jules Roos, who became the face of the mission and remained there until called home by our Lord two years ago. “The early years of my life were completely immersed in Chimbote,” says Tom. “Fr. Jim was a huge part of our family, and Chimbote meant so much to him.” First serving on the annual dinner committee, then named to the board of directors in 2004, Tom continues his family’s commitment to the Chimbote Mission. “My uncle passed away of cancer in 1978, but getting to know Monsignor Roos and Sisters Maggie & Lillian further forged my love and respect for the mission. They have become my heroes, showing us how God’s love can manifest in many ways,” added Tom. “I am humbled and honored to support this mission in loving memory of my Uncle, but also for the incredible Monsignor Jules Roos, Sister Maggie and Sister Lilian.”
Reverend Paul J. Zywan
Ordained in 1986, Fr. Zywan has participated in various ministries in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. He is presently serving as pastor at St. Alexis Parish, Wexford. Appointed to the Board in 1998, he has had the opportunity to twice visit and experience first-hand the miracles that take place daily at Maternidad de Maria. “It is a privilege to share in the ministry of serving the people of Chimbote – even from a distance. They are a true gift to the Church of Pittsburgh, reminding us of the width and depth of the family of God. Even in their need for the basic necessities of life that too often we take for granted, they continue to radiate the joy of the Lord. They are witnesses of genuine discipleship and living reminders of the opportunities that are ours to make a difference by living with and for Jesus.”