Puppets, Pizza, and Peru

National Catholic Sisters Week, which is held annually from March 8 to March 13, was celebrated in a special way in Pittsburgh. Sister Gerri Wodarczyk, CSFN, from the Department for Consecrated Life worked with the Pittsburgh Religious Vocation Council and Gary Slifkey, Campus Minister at Robert Morris University, to bring sisters and students together to create nearly 150 puppets for the children in the Pittsburgh Diocesan mission in Chimbote, Peru. The creative artist who designed the puppets and did all the background preparation for the project was Sister Antonina Gadacz, CSFN. The National Catholic Sisters Week provided a small grant which covered the cost of the event.
Over 90 students on campus participated in the 4-hour casual event, engaged in puppet making, shared informal conversations with the sisters, and enjoyed some pizza, a beloved food staple of college life.  Sr. Gerri summarized the event as a bridging party with multiple purposes. It provided an opportunity for evangelization, an opportunity for vocational outreach in an informal setting with women religious in the diocese, and it served to raise awareness with the students of the needs of others, especially the children living in poverty in Peru who are served by our Diocesan mission.

This summer, two Pittsburgh mission teams will be traveling separately to Chimbote in June and July, and hand-delivering the puppets, pun intended! Among them are two RMU students, Joseph Auth and Roman Iannone, who also participated in making the puppets. Given the recent torrential rains and flooding caused by the El Nino in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Peru, these toys will be welcome gifts for so many of the children, bringing rays of sunshine through the clean-up.

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