Sister Peggy O’Neill, a Sister of Charity from New Jersey, is a visionary and a risk-taker.
In 1987, she joined several Dubuque Franciscan sisters to work in El Salvador, first with internally displaced refugees in a camp outside San Salvador and later in the parish of Suchitoto.
At first she taught part of the year in Iona College in New York, but for many years now she is spending all her time in Suchitoto.
She is the founder and director of Centro Arte para la Paz – Center Art for Peace – which I find a symbol of hope.
The Center seeks to introduce young people to the arts – dance, drama, instruments (including the harp). Currently there are three volunteers from the US helping with music classes.
The center has also worked with young people who prepare exhibitions that seek to recover the historical memory of tis zone which had been devastated by the Salvadoran civil war.
The Center is on the grounds of the former Blessed Imelda School, which Dominican sisters had run from many years, fleeing about 1980 in the face of threats and an expanding civil war.
It is now an oasis of peace – and a place where many, especially the young, can grow to be real peacemakers.
There are small rooms for sleeping, classrooms for instruction, a conference hall, and a café.
I stayed there during my visit to El Salvador this month and saw a little of their work.
You can read more here. Their Facebook page is here. If you want to contribute, which I strongly suggest as an alternative Christmas gift, contact them here.
Here are a few photos of the center.
|Chapel bell tower - in need of repair|
|A morning breakfast companion at the Café Museo at the Centro|
|Map of Suchitoto in the Center|