President Michael D. Higgins has told Irish missionaries in Peru that they present “the values of Ireland at their very best” through the “joy, practical help and hope” that they bring to disadvantaged communities in Latin America.
President Higgins is currently on a 12-day trip, encompassing Peru,
Colombia and Cuba, to celebrate the historic connections between Ireland
and Latin America.
In Lima he was greeted by Irish missionaries with a rendition of
Amhrán na bhFiann at an informal gathering at the headquarters of the
Missionary Society of St James the Apostle, headed by Limerick man, Fr
The President told the missionaries he was “very privileged” and “so
pleased” that they were able to gather to meet him at short notice.
is very important for you to know that as President of Ireland, it makes
my heart lift to know there are people who are working to create hope
where it doesn’t exist and where hope does, that spark is there, to make
sure it is a bright flame that keeps people going,” he said.
“You bring so much joy but practical help, and you bring hope, and
you indicate what I think is the values of Ireland at their very best.”
President Higgins said he is “moved” whenever he hears Pope Francis
speaking out against “those models that are failing not just the poor
but failing humanity” and “to think that you are on the ground doing all
of these things and putting them into practice”.
When the President last visited Lima in 1987 he stayed with the
Columban Fathers, who he said “were doing their best to support
communities of the poor and those families affected by the economic
policies of the day”.
Co. Mayo priest Peter Hughes SSC, who has collaborated with Mr
Higgins since then in defending the rights of the indigenous people of
the Amazon basin, said that the President’s words
offered the missionaries a real “boost” in their work.