Monday, January 16, 2012

(65) PAVLA After 50 Years (V) - Long Range Effects.......What Papal Volunteers Did in Latin America (Colleagues Too) and Have Been Doing Since


Papal Volunteer Maria Colabella and her ability to communicate Christian love which was so much a part of her. 
        From the beginning in 1961, there were successes and problems with the Papal Volunteers for Latin America (PAVLA). It was under the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and led by Fr. Raymond A. Kevane from his office in Chicago. By 1967 there were about 250 volunteers in thefield with many if not most of the 195 dioceses sponsoring two or three lay volunteers.
The Decline of PAVLA

       Most volunteers needed at least a year to adapt to the culture, become proficient in the language, know the people, and become effective in his or her job. Some were not properly placed or could not adapt to the culture and went home early. Religious missionaries had the same problems, but were established and were long term. The Peace Corps also had such problems, but they had the resources to absorb their mistakes. Their public relations covered up the failures and emphasized their successes while PAVLA was more focused on its failures. Furthermore, the Papal Volunteers usually served American missions already in place and had little opportunity to exercise individual initiative. The Peace Corps Volunteers had considerable freedom in the very broad area of Community Development.

       In any event PAVLA's long range survival was in question. The American Church was going through the post Vatican II turmoil and the drying up of religious vocations. The Church at the diocesan level became more focused upon its own problems and was losing interest in sending lay volunteers to the missions

      In 1967 I came home for my brother John's wedding and gave a talk to a large group of volunteers in training. In 1969 during a year off to obtain a Master's Degree in Business at the University of Pittsburgh, I attended a meeting of returned volunteers in Dayton, Ohio. The numbers in the field began to dwindle. I attended another meeting at the Chicago O'Hare Airport I think about 1972 while on home leave. After that I didn't hear anything about PAVLA as an active organization. Apparently in 1973 or so, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops quietly dissolved the Papal Volunteers for Latin America as a national organization.

        However, the dioceses continued to sponsor the volunteers in the field. Although deposits of $125 (a raise from $100) per month into my checking account suddenly stopped for several months, the Baltimore Archdiocese corrected it and continued to sponsor me until my father died in October 1979 and my mother was alone with Fred, a sick brother. While teaching at the Franciscan University of Steubenville from 1980 to 1983, I spent the summers of 1980, 1981, and 1982 as a volunteer, financing myself the last two summers.
Fr. Raymond Kevane's Fight to Save PAVLA.  He is the former National Director of PAVLA in the 1960s.  He left the priesthood, but is a practicing Catholic.  He believed that the American hierarchy betrayed PAVLA by abandoning it in the early 1970s and let it die as an organization.  True, the Baltimore Archdiocese continued to sponsor me until 1980 and other dioceses continued to sponsor lay volunteers on its own for a number of years.  Today religious orders and societies as the Jesuits and Maryknoll sponsor lay volunteers.   Maryknoll clergy technically are secular priests and not religious.

       When PAVLA was at its peak with some 250 volunteers in the field during the middle 1960s, Maryknoll and the religious orders would request volunteers from PAVLA.  Their only obligation was to supervise and provide them with a place to stay.  Each volunteer received a stipend of about $100 a month from its sponsoring diocese for food, and other expenses.  The sponsoring diocese was also responsible for the training expenses and travel to the mission and back.  The original intent was for the Latin American organization or diocese to request a volunteer and provide a place to stay, but that seemed to be the exception. 

        In that same book Fr. Kevane also accused the bishops of the early 1970s of being guilty of practicing what the Vatican in the 1890s condemned as the heresy of Americanism.  It is defined below. – on the heresy of Americanism which Pope Leo XIII condemned in 1899.  While still a priest, Fr. Raymond A Kevane  condemned some 70 years later when he fought to preserve the Papal Volunteers for Latin America, a concept which is still an innovative idea today.  Individual dioceses should have a missionary mentality and send lay volunteers to foreign lands.  But sadly, the typical diocese is too preoccupied with its local problems, often overwhelming to use its human and financial resources for sending a couple of volunteers to help in the foreign missions.  True, there’s so much evangelization to be done with lapsed Catholics in our own parishes and extended families.  With our severe shortage of vocations, we need and have been accepting missionaries from Poland, Africa, India, and even Latin America.    - an article by Russel Shaw, showing that the Americanism heresy, which reflects individualism in our culture, is still alive today.  It includes the belief that the Catholic Church is obliged to change with the times and compromise its moral teaching.  It also shows how the Knights of Columbus has remained faithful to the Magisterium over the years.  Russel Shaw believes that in the United States the old Americanism heresy is alive and well among the liberals in the Church……Cafeteria Catholicism, disregard of Papal teaching and authority, disobedience to pastors and bishops, the so called right to choose abortion, women priests, de-emphasis of sin and confession, following of conscience even though it is opposed to Church teaching, relative morality, etc.      
     Since the 1970s, PAVLA has had the image of being just another program that began with great enthusiasm and then later failed. Thomas Quigley, who headed up an office for lay volunteers under the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, was not very positive about PAVLA.  I have tried to show that PAVLA was by no means a failure and was at least a modest success.  PAVLA was certainly a pioneer in the concept of lay missioners which is continuing today.

The Role of PAVLA in Promoting the Concept of Lay Missioners

     The concept of Catholic lay missionaries did not stop with the death of PAVLA. Indeed PAVLA promoted the concept of lay missioners throughout its life. During and after the decline of PAVLA, new lay missionary groups were formed for training and placing lay missionaries for commitments of at least three years.

   The Maryknoll Lay Missioners were founded in 1974 ( train and send missioners all over the world. Although more independent over the years, at least in administration and fund raising, the 140 or so volunteers work closely with the Maryknoll fathers, brothers, and sisters and have access to much of their resources.

 The Jesuits formed JV International in 1983 (, The Lay Mission Helpers were founded in 1955 ( and other missionary orders founded or expanded their programs for lay missionaries.

   Since 1990 the Franciscan Mission Service ( forms, trains, and sends lay volunteers to Bolivia and Africa. They inculcate the Franciscan charism in their lay missioners and ask them to continue to serve the Church in America after their return with that same Franciscan missionary spirit. In other words, they continue to utilize their international experience and Franciscan formation in following the command that Christ gave to St. Francis, “Rebuild my Church” for the rest of their lives. Indeed every Catholic is called to be a missionary (see Blog #5).

     In 1997 the Mission Doctors Association, (founded in 1959 -, responding to the needs of many professionals and hospitals where MDA had personnel serving, began the short-term program. Doctors are invited to attend a Retreat/Seminar prior to accepting an assignment to a mission hospital or clinic. These short-term assignments are one to three months in duration. Today many American doctors and nurses commonly give one or two weeks of their vacations to serve on a medical mission anywhere from Haiti to Africa ( Dr. Mel Simon of Gallipolis has organized an annual medical mission to the Philippines for over 25 years (see Blog #16).

       I like to think that PAVLA, as a pioneer in lay missionary work in 1960s and early 1970s, has left a legacy and has helped to promote the concept of lay missioners, especially with its publicity in the early years. In these ways, PAVLA has made at least a small contribution to the growth of the lay missionary movement and indirectly to the formation of new lay missionary groups. Furthermore, current organizations that recruit, train, and send lay missionaries to the missions, have learned from the successes, mistakes, and experience of PAVLA.

       Vincent Gragnani gives a good picture of lay missionaries today in his article in the July 30, 2007 issue of America Magazine, “The New, Lay Face of Missionaries” (  He estimated the number of lay missoners overseas at about 1000. However, most are hurting for funds and are dependent upon their parent religious order. PAVLA had about 250 at its peak.  He recommended the following websites to find more opportunities about volunteer opportunities domestic and foreign: The Pallotti Center, The Catholic Network of Volunteer Services, Maryknoll Lay Missioners, Franciscan Mission Service, and Good Shepherd Volunteers (Simply click on the website of interest).

        Response 2012 has published the most comprehensive guide of faith-based service opportunities available......some 200 programs and thousands of openings to serve for periods of one week to one year or more in the United States and over 100 countries worldwide. Volunteers are from all walks of life, single and married .......from high school students to senior citizens with or without children. Call 1-800-543-5046, e-mail or go online at

Contributions of Former Papal Volunteers to the Church in Latin American & Back Home  
(Last Update September 23, 2019)

          Pioneers in Short Term Lay Commitment.  Inspired by Pope John XXIII's call for help to Latin America, PAVLA was really the pioneer in the concept of lay missioners giving at least three years of their lives in serving the Church in the missions.  Only the lay institutes as Madonna House preceded PAVLA, but they required a lifetime commitment.  After the decline of PAVLA, numerous organizations as Maryknoll and the Jesuits continue to send lay missioners all over the world.  Some of these groups are listed above.  Although it has been defunct for over 40 years, clearly PAVLA's concept of short term lay missioners is very much alive, thanks to its pioneering efforts.    

        Latin American Bishops of the 1960s and 70s were pleased with the work of PAVLA through its lay missioners.   

At the same time, the people of the sponsoring diocese received a greater mission  awareness……not only looking in, but also looking out.  The local diocesan newspaper would publicize the work of the volunteers and the priests they sent and supported for a temporary commitment of at least three years.  The parishes would also identify with one of their own.  For the time being most dioceses are overwhelmed with a lack of vocations, low finances, fallen away Catholics, moral laxity, less involvement in parish life, scandal, etc.  But let us pray for a revival and work hard to solve our problems with the Lord’s help…….evangelizing ourselves and others.   

Perhaps the greatest contribution of PAVLA is through its former Papal Volunteers who returned home to serve the Church, the poor, our Country, and the world for the rest of their lives. Armed with the spiritual growth, experience, and missionary spirit gained during their time in Latin America, they continue to strengthen a Church beset by scandal, indifference, laxity, and fallen away Catholics. The need for a strong laity is crucial and they are trying to do their part.  

          May they continue to pass down their missionary spirit even though the Papal Volunteers of the 60s and 70s are in their twilight years and beginning to die off.   Before we all pass on, let us set straight the history of the American Church.  PAVLA is not a failure and should never have been discontinued.  The turmoil of the 60s and 70s did not justify looking inward and abandoning such a noble endeavor.    In fact it is still reaping fruits.  Perhaps some day each diocese may again send lay missioners such as the Papal Volunteers to Latin America.  For now we are missioners in our own country as part of the New Evangelization that desperately needs young lay leaders to rebuild and renew the Church in America. 
       I wonder if a reunion of former Papal Volunteers would be possible to celebrate the Canonization of Pope John XXIII and to re-energize our efforts and the concept of lay volunteers nationwide working for the Church full time for three years or more and continuing to serve part time as volunteers after their terms are over as well as putting Christ into their full time jobs.  Of course, thousands of lay professionals already devote their careers working directly for the Church full time in diocesan and parish ministries, in schools and colleges, in hospitals, and many diverse charities.

      What Are They Doing Now? Let us look at what former volunteers did in Latin America and what they are doing now. Invariably, they all have a great social awareness, which they passed on to their children. Some are liberal and some are conservative, but they all have been making a contribution for years and in many cases their adult children as well, although not all of the latter have been faithful to the Church.   Let's look at them.  

     I ask all former Papal Volunteers to pass the word and contact me at (I check it daily) and update me on what they did as lay missioners and what they are doing now plus any other news worth sharing.  Scanned photos past and present would be a big bonus.  Also please send the e-mail addresses of other Papal Volunteers you know.  Then I'll be able to continue to update this blog about more former Papal Volunteers.  Please help me.  I'll try to keep this blog up to date.  Unless told otherwise, I will forward all e-mails to my Papal Volunteer E-mail List or you can use the list below yourself.  Most of those below served about three years mainly in the 1960s and a few in the 1970s.  I was there full time from 1965 (68-69 for an MBA at Pitt) until 1979 when my father died.  I last served in the Summers of 1980, 1981, and 1982 while teaching at Franciscan University of Steubenville.  

        The most current e-mail addresses I have are below.  Some have changed their e-mail addresses.  In that case please help me to update them  

Fr. Raymond A. Kevane - As the founding Director of PAVLA (1964-1969), he fought valiantly and hard to preserve PAVLA and felt betrayed by the sudden lack of support by the American bishops.  I attended a couple of meetings he called in 1969 in Dayton and Chicago.  He later wrote a book: "Betrayed: An American Catholic Priest Speaks Out: Modern Heresies Exposed" and another specifically on PAVLA.  It can be found by clicking on  To buy either book go to or google his name.  He wrote I used to hear a great deal from Latin American bishops about how pleased they were with the entire program.

Kevane wrote Janice Albuquerque: "I used to hear a great deal from Latin American bishops about how pleased they were with the entire program".   In an e-mail to me I quote: “While it was the most rewarding experience of my life, the program and I personally were subject to the most savage opposition I have ever encountered.  On July 1, 1969 I submitted a memorandum to the PAVLA subcommittee of bishops, expecting to be supported, but I was not.  About two years later, Cardinal Medeiros of Boston, who had been a member of that subcommittee, told my brother, Msgr. Eugene Kevane, ‘Your brother was absolutely right; we should have listened to him.’”  After leaving PAVLA, he was laicized, but remained faithful to the Church.   

Tom Quigley - was in charge of PAVLA for a while in the middle 1970s and had a position with the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.  His job seemed to be that of winding PAVLA down.  He wrote an article on PAVLA which I thought to be very negative.  Perhaps he could give us his side and bring us up to date on himself.
         Dr. Kevin Dwyer - was the Director of the Papal Volunteers for Columbia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile in the 1960s headquartered in our Center House in the Lince section of Lima, Peru.  We enjoyed his lovely wife and seven children who also lived there.  Previously, he had to move them all from Santiago, Chile when it became dangerous with the political turmoil.  He went on for a PhD in Education and worked in that area.  He died in 2007 or so.  Write me for his daughter's e-mail full of memories on him.  I vividly remember him and his beautiful family.  I hope that Kathy can send more information on what he did after PAVLA and what his children are doing now.

        Dr. John Keenan - succeeded Kevin Dwyer as Director in 1968 or so.  Previously he taught in Valparaiso, Chile. He married Silvia, a Chilean girl and raised a family in St. Paul, Minnesota. There he has done research in a chemical lab for a number of years.  I remember his long letters to us and hope that he can bring us up to date on himself.  John and Silvia now live at 1335 Anderson; Coos Bay, Oregon 97420.

        Isabel Valverde - was regional director of PAVLA in Santiago, Chile 1964-67.  John Lesko, a former Peace Corps Volunteer, is trying to locate her.  She may have become a nun.

        Bob Bauer was a PAVLA Field Representative (1966-69), first in Santiago, Chile and later in Peru, Bolivia, and finally Bogota, Colombia.  He met many Papal Volunteers who impressed him as being “a fine and dedicated group of people, as was Fr. Kevane, our director”.  From 1970 until his retirement, Bob worked for several non-profit organizations.  He and his wife, Mary Liz now live in Bethlehem, PA while wintering in Puerto Rico.  Their son lives in New York.  Like all of us, he would love to hear from volunteers.  Although having no quarrel with the Catholic Church, Bob and Mary Liz drifted into Quakerism 40 years ago and have been active in their local Quaker Meeting ever since.

      Jean Fox - was a saintly woman who worked as a nurse in charge of a postamedica in Sicuani, Peru.  After PAVLA, she joined Madonna House Apostolate founded by Catherine Doherty, whose cause for canonization is advancing.  It is a large group of lay men and women as well as priests that evangelize by doing charitable works and living the Gospel without compromise.  They make lifetime promises of poverty, chastity, and obedience  Initially PAVLA sent her there for her spiritual formation.  Jean later served nearly 20 years as the Director General of Women for the world-wide Madonna House Apostolate until her death in April 2004.  You can order her book, "Inflamed By Love" from the Madonna House Apostolate by clicking on  The website remembers her  as one of the pioneers of their movement.  Jean Fox may be the most prominent former Papal Volunteer of us all in terms of major contributions to the Church.  She left a life long impression on me when I met her in 1968 at her postamedica in Sicuani, Peru.    
          Martha Ramsey Toledo worked in Juli, Peru as a nurse in a government clinic and trained Peruvians in 1967-68.  She wrote a very interesting diary during her time there.  If anyone would like to have a copy (pdf), please contact me at  You may contact Martha Ramsey Toledo at 140 South Winding; Waterford, MI 48328 or call 248-682-1249.

          Joe Wessing – a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, did agricultural work under the Maryknoll Fathers in Capa Chica near Puno, Peru. He met Virginia in Perú and married her in 1970 at the chapel of the Universidad Católica de Santa María en Arequipa.  He ran an insurance agency and they continued to run their farm in Pilot Grove, MO.  He was one of the last of "The Great Generation" which sacrificed and worked hard both home and abroad for victory in World War II.  He died on June 26, 2013 at the age of 92.

Virginia Mihegen Wessing – taught nursing at the Universidad Católica de Santa María and met Joe in Peru.  Later she did nursing work in Missouri.  Both continued to be very active in their parish and contribute to Catholic causes.  In her 80s she lives alone, but has somebody coming in.  

     Dr. Fred Turk  – Taught Math at a high school in Arequipa, Peru, where he met his wife. He obtained his PhD in Education at Catholic University. Fred was engaged in education research with the Education Ministries in conjunction with the OAS & UNESCO in Peru, Ecuador, and Chile. He was also a professor in a University in Brazil. In Rock Falls, IL Fred worked with wife and women abusers, Peace Action, Open Forum Adult Education, and Occupation Wall Street.

Kay Laswell Turk – taught elementary school and worked with the parish credit union and library in Arequipa, Peru. With an entrepreneurial spirit Kay started and directed a Learning Center for special academic help at Sauk Valley Community College in Rock Falls. Fred and Kay passed on a legacy of social awareness to their children:
*Daniel – is an MIT Civil Engineer, who worked for the Interamerican Development Bank and the World Bank in project evaluation.  He now works for the Washington transit authority in planning.
*David – is a lawyer, who was on the staff of Joe Biden. As a Special Adviser to the President in the White House, he did liaison work between the National Security Agency and Congress.  Currently he is an envoy for the State Department, promoting climate control.
*Greg – is an MBA finance graduate, working with the Illinois Teachers Pension Fund.
*Naomi – is an elementary school teacher. She and her husband taught in Mexico for two years.

Sr. Jane DeLand – A former psychiatric nurse was in charge of a parish clinic in Cerro Colorado on the outskirts of Arequipa, Peru. When I talked to Fr. Gil DeRitis at Maryknoll in 2011, he raved at her competence in running that clinic and helping out in the parish at Cerro Colorado. Later she obtained an MBA and became a public health administrator.  In the 1990s Sister Jane joined the cloistered Sisters of St. Clare and became their prioress in Evansville, Indiana.  At the age of 74 in the year 2011, she's one of the youngest nuns there and takes care of her aging sisters, who seem to go on forever. All over the world cloistered nuns seem to have an unusual longevity.  Perhaps it is because they are free of stress with a complete trust in God. 

     Marilyn Banjo Neushwander  – was the executive secretary to the Rector of the Universidad Católica de Santa María, Fr. William Morris, in Arequipa, Peru. There she met her husband Mario, a former student and raised two children. They live in Lima, where Mario is a banker.

       Sr. Maria Colabella – taught Nursing at the Universidad Catolica de Santa Maria and lived among the poor in Arequipa, Peru. After open heart surgery, this unsinkable woman joined the Maryknoll Sisters in 1978, with whom she did social and nursing work with the poor in New Rochelle, NY.  She died on March 19, 2019, the Feast of St. Joseph. See my tribute to her at

          Marlene Anderson later served as the executive secretary to the Rector of the Universidad Católica de Santa María, Fr. William Morris (he died in the 1990s in Arequipa, Peru.  His tomb and monument are at the University he founded.) Later she worked for the U.S. Embassy in Santiago, Chile.  We're trying to regain contact with her.

       Dr. Paul R. Sebastian (1965 - 1982) (call 740-245-9404 or e-mail - taught Chemistry, Methodology of Science Teaching, Business, and Economic Development at the Universidad Católica de Santa María and the Universidad Nacional de San Augustin.  He wrote extensively for two newspapers (El Correo mainly & El Diario Pueblo) and three radio stations (Radio Melodia, Radio Concordia, & Radio San Martin) there on religious and current topics.  Paul also worked with the Christian Fraternity for the Sick & Handicapped, promoted vocations, organized lectures & forums in the Civic Auditorium, taught short courses to Science teachers, etc.  

     He finally obtained his doctorate in Operations Management from Kent State University in 1994.  There he met a Polish student, now his wife Jadwiga.  They reside at 11330 State Route 588; Bidwell, OH 45614 in southeastern Ohio, now an empty nest after raising John-Paul (Math Teacher), Stephanie Mary Spiotta (elementary school teacher), Naomi (Labor & Delivery Nurse), and Joseph (software developer).  For his activities in the United States, see his bio in the right hand column of his blog at His last family newsletters are at and 

          Ed Gorden – worked in Agriculture in Peru and continues in the same area in the state of Washington.

          Rita Gorden – worked in Lima, Peru.  She married Ed and has hosted many people from Peru in a people to people outreach from their home in the state of Washington.

        Dr. Julia Lesage – taught English at the Universidad Católica de Lima (1967-70) and says that “PAVLA was a key experience in my life.  I just turned 80 (2019)”.  She is Professor Emerita of English at the University of Oregon.  Her personal web site is  Julia is editor of the journal, “JUMP CUT: A REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY MEDIA” whose website is  Her address is 3480 Mill Street; Eugene, OR 97405.

          Ron & Carolyn Bosse – worked with a Credit Coop in Juli near Puno, Peru.  He married Carolyn Bihn, a Papal Volunteer and they both continued for many years as Maryknoll lay missioners in Chol Chol, Chile.  In 2017 or so they returned to the United States.

Beth & Wayne Malone – served in Peru and Chile, but I don’t know exactly where and what they did.  Wayne passed away in July 2015.  I hope that Beth can send more information. 

           Green Bay Diocese Volunteers.  Peter Geniesse - served in Antofagasta, Chile.  He worked with other volunteers sponsored by the Green Bay Diocese.......elementary school teachers Jim Schaefer of Green Bay and Jeannine Ducharme, a Canadian sponsored by the Green Bay Diocese.  Nurse Carol Reinkover, served at a parish clinic in rural Mexico until the diocese's Antofagasta mission was established.  Genevieve Zandala is another nurse who worked in a parish clinic.  Their clinics are still in operation, but more with AIDS and drug rehabilitation.  They all worked with the Wisconsin Norbertines and the Canadian Oblates.  For more detail click on - from the Green Bay Diocesan Newspaper May 21, 2004

Peter Geniesse (1962 - 65) - was somewhat of a free-lance lay missionary. He first taught English to sixth graders at Colegio San José, then moved to the Universidad Católica del Norte where he taught writing and journalism and wrote grant proposals for the fledgling Jesuit institution.  Several facilities trace their beginnings from the grants he wrote.  Peter also worked for the Antofagasta Diocese, handling parish publications, and helped at churches in the slums and missions on the pampa.  He even taught English to adults in the evenings.  His work was interrupted by two stints in the hospital with hepatitis.  

Geniesse observed: “My faith was strengthened and my social conscience was formed, not so much in my 17 years of Catholic schooling as in those couple of years as a Papal Volunteer. My most memorable mentors include Msgr. Ivan Illich, Director of the Center for Intercultural Formation in Cuernavaca, who taught me to think, and Fr. Ignacio Vergara, a Jesuit worker-priest, who gave up wealth and position to be with the poor of Antofagasta. Both are saints in my book.”  Fr. Renato Poblete is another. 

Bart Givens – served in Santiago, Chile in the late 1960s.  He was part of a parish program under the direction of a Chilean priest.  He and his wife, Jeanette reside at 335 Cliff Falls Ct. in Colorado Springs, CO 80919.  He worked with non-profit organizations after his return from Chile.
Mary Ellen Howardson – worked in Osorno, Chile. She taught Spanish at St. Catherine College in Minnesota.
Peggy Toomey Urzua - worked as a lab technician in Santiago in the late 1960’s.  She married Rene Urzua, a Chilean she met in Santiago.  They lived in Bethlehem, PA for many years and moved after retiring to 1000 Stanford Road; Pittsburgh, PA 15212.  They still spend part of every winter in Chile. 

        Janice Smrekar Albuquerque of Ely, Minnesota (1965-68) – worked in community development with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in Recife-Brazil and Brasilia Teimosa as part of the social plan of Bishop Helder Camara’s Operation Hope for human rights and decent living conditions.  She wrote about it in her Master’s Thesis obtained from the Federal University Pernambuco.  Sisters Denise and Theresa wrote books on the subject.  The Oblates are still there working in the Amazon area with the indigenous people.  Lorenzo, one of the Oblates, actually lived with the street people.  Three Oblates were exiled by the rightest dictatorship and it was also difficult for the volunteers.  Father Eduardo Figueiroa is still there.  

Janice married a Brazilian, Bento Albuquerque and has been living there since 1969 while continuing her work.  Janice has three married children and a grandchild.  From 1984 to 2012, Janice taught Social Work for 30 years at the Catholic University of Recife and became coordinator of the program, sending her students to do social development work at the request of the people of Recife.  She now works for Caritas of the Diocese.  All of these positive results started with PAVLA.       

Lucy Peterson – worked with Janice and was a nurse in Recife-Brazil 1969-70.  She now lives in Iowa.

Mary Ellen Halverson – another Papal Volunteer sponsored by the Duluth, Minn. Diocese.  She also worked with Janice.  The Minnesota Papal Volunteers meet annually.  More reunions like that are necessary among other former Papal Volunteers.

Giane (Jeane) Webb Cavalcante – is another Papal Volunteer who married a Brazilian and worked with Janice.  She continues to work in Recife.  

Mary Elizabeth Kelliher – is still serving in Brazil.

These women, Papal Volunteers, did community development, citizen awareness, nursing  and health education.

          Bill Brighoff - was a Papal Volunteer from Baltimore from 1965 to 1968.  Having a BS in Animal Science, he taught at Lynam Agricultural College in Belize and managed the livestock.  He met his first wife there, Lois Gund, who was also a PAVLA volunteer who taught nursing.  In 1971, he obtained a MS in Zoology and in ‘79 a JD.  Then Bill practiced law for a few years, but returned to teaching in the St Louis Public Schools for 15 years before retirement.   Pray for Bill that he returns to the Church from the secular humanist group he belongs to.

Dr. William Thompson - served in Jamaica (1968-69), working in a middle class parish and later in a poor Jesuit parish in Kingston.  He also taught Catequesis in an elementary school, worked with groups in the community, and helped them with government ministries.   He earned a PhD in Psychology from Boston College and became a professor.  Bill also worked on the US. Commission on Civil Rights, Public Schools of Boston, Catholic Charities in Washington, and did administrative work.  

       Retired he worked in his parish, St. Mark Church in Summerfield, FL, 14208 SE 85th Terrace; Summerfield, FL 34491.   He showed Fr. Robert Barron's Catholicsm Series each year.   He was also their Religious Education Coordinator and organized Eucharistic programs, seminars, and talks.  Since Pope John XXIII inspired the formation of PAVLA, he and Mary attended his canonization and that of St. John Paul II in 2014.  He and his wife Mary currently live in Ormond Beach, FL and are members of the parish council of the Basilica of St. Paul in Daytona Beach.  There they developed and hosted the parish's advent retreat series titled "The Eucharist and the Poor: What did Jesus Preach?  What does the Church Teach?"

        Mary Thompson - served in Jamaica where she started a sewing school.  Many of the people they worked with are active in the Jamaican Church today.  They actually worked with Fr. Richard Lung, the saintly priest who works with the poor there and has a TV program on EWTN, "Missionaries of the Poor.  Mary is now an adviser for students at College of Central Florida in Ocala, Florida.  Previously she did social work in Boston, southern Maryland, and in the community   At Cornell, she was Assistant Dean of Minority Programs. 
Tidbits from John Keenan May 2019
- Ron Bosse married Carolyn, went on to Chile with Maryknoll and finally they have returned  to the  USA.
- Ed Gordon and Rita moved but together still somewhere in Washington.
- Peggy Urzua, neé Toomey, in Pennsylvania.
- John Keenan hanging loose in Oregon.
        We can see that most former Papal Volunteers did continue serving the Church and/or the community.  Most of us are in our 80s now (2019), but still going strong in doing our parts as lay men and women in a Church in deep crisis, but the gates of hell shall never prevail.  We still have that spirit of service that originated before joining PAVLA.  To what extent PAVLA influenced that spirit is uncertain.  

      The experience we gained in Latin America can only be helpful, especially mission awareness that we bring to our parishes.  A parish can only be stronger due to the presence of former lay missionaries.  It is clear that the Papal Volunteers made a significant contribution in only a three year commitment that is difficult to compare with seasoned missionaries who have devoted lifetimes to the missions.  It is also clear that a diocese is enriched when it sends a handful of lay missionaries abroad.  News about them in the diocesan and secular newspaper certainly creates mission awareness which strengthens the local Church.   

         It was the dream of Raymond Kevane and at least some former Papal Volunteers that PAVLA be revived.  For now that is probably impossible due to over $24 billion of diocesan resources spent on the Clergy Abuse Crisis, the dearth of vocations, and the loss of so many of our younger people leaving the Church.  Clearly there is so much missionary work to be done under our noses in our colleges, parishes, and local communities, even within our own extended families.  What is certain is that the gates of hell shall not prevail and that someday the Church will be purified and renewed.  Then the Church will again be vibrant enough to send more missionaries abroad, including young adults willing to devote three years to the foreign missions as lay missionaries such as the Papal Volunteers in Latin America. 

Peace Corps Volunteers Who Worked With Us 

        Bob Relyea - taught Math for Universidad Católica de Santa María in Arequipa, Peru and was very popular with the students.  He married Frances, the daughter of an evangelical missionary's in Arequipa.  Bob was a missionary himself for a while.  In 1972 they moved to Australia where he taught Math for 25 years.  They have five children (2 boys and 3 girls).  In 1998 he took early retirement at age 55 to become an Evangelical missionary in Peru for the next 17 years…….three years in Arequipa, then Lima, other parts of Peru, including the last 8 years in Chiclayo (see   He specialized in Christian School education and Creationism.   His address is 26 Robertson Way, CAMDEN PARK, NSW, 2570, AUSTRALIA; Ph. Landline: +612 46555182    Cell: +61 452470480.   I’d be happy to send more details and photos on request.

        Jim Firth – was teaching Math at the University when I got there.  Bob Relyea replaced him in 1967 or so.  Jim’s wife did some other work in the area.

        Fred Mouncer - taught Biology at the University.  I saw him at Cornell where he was a graduate student.  I understand that he was killed in an auto accident in 1978.

        Gary Barnes - taught a Biology lab at the University.  He was a real character, whom we loved.  He died of AIDS in 2007 or so.

         Mark Tribo & his wife - taught science in 1971-72 at the Escuela Normal de las Madres Esclavas.  Mark worked for a number of years for Dupont in Parkersburg, WV.  They organized cursillos for teachers in Arequipa through the Ministerio de Educación.  His wife Dianne is working with the nuns in Arizona, doing social work with Mexican immigrants, some of whom come across the border almost dying of thirst.  Retired, he plans to join her.  It's a small world!  He joined our parish in the 2014 March for Life and they "by chance" put us together as roommates in the motel.  We had a great chat.

        Chuck Paule – taught cursillos with Mark Tribo.  He married a Peruvian, Maruja Banchero.  They now live in Westerville, OH with their two children.

Gene and Judy Peckham - taught at the Universidad Católica.  He taught Derecho (Law) and she taught English.  
         Elaine Hanweiler Segal ran a knitting coop in Juli, Peru 1967-68.  She died of cancer in 1982.  She worked with Papal Volunteer Martha Ramsey Toledo mentioned above.  Elaine is the mother of Daniel Segal, who successfully found Martha through John Keenan.  Martha was able to tell Daniel all about his mother and give him a copy of her diary which gives details about Elaine.  If anyone would like to have a copy (pdf), please contact me at
John Lesko - taught physics, in Spanish, at the Universidad de Concepcion in Chile 1964-67.  He worked at a Community College in the U.S. for 40 years teaching physics, math, Spanish and anthropology.  He obtained Masters degrees in Physics, Anthropology, and Education.

There is a website of Peace Corps Volunteers who served in Bolivia and Peru at  This may help those trying to track down people.

Priests and  Religious Who Worked With Us

Fr. William Morris SM, a Marianist priest from St. Louis, founded the Universidad Católica de Santa María of Arequipa, Perú in 1962 and welcomed American religious, Papal Volunteers, and Peace Corps Volunteers.  I first met him in May 1965; it was getting dark and his first new building didn’t have electricity yet.  I simply said: “I can teach Chemistry”; he welcomed me on the spot, hardly even knowing what I looked like.  While teaching a variety of courses from Theology to Math, Fr. Morris with the help of Peruvians built a Dental School, a Nursing School, and two other buildings housing programs in Education, Law, Economics, Accounting, and Business.  

In 1974 an alliance of leftist students and professors took control of the University and with government approval evicted him and the Americans working there.  However, he was asked to return a couple of years later.  The University gave him an apartment nearby and later a caregiver.  He suffered from some Dementia in his waning years, such a brilliant mind.  I believe that he had a PhD in Theology.  He finally died in Arequipa at the age of 89 in 1999.  His tomb is at the University he founded.

Sister Cristóforos, a German nun, started the Nursing program at the Universidad Católica de Santa María.  She was really a go-getter, persuading the West German Government to finance the construction of the three story 15 room Nursing School and equipping it.  Sr. Cristóforos is the type who can go into an appliance store and come out with a donated refrigerator.  She ruled with a quiet but iron hand, putting out great nurses.

The Sisters of St. Joseph of Albany, NY were a great help in the founding of the Universidad Católica de Santa María.  Sisters Estair, Dolores, Amelia, and Loyola taught mostly English.  Sister Mary Joseph taught Nursing.  Sister John Emmanuel (Catherine Schuyler) is the most unforgettable of them all.  She taught Literature with great enthusiasm to teach Christian values.  Sister Camilis, a Franciscan I believe, also made a great contribution to the Nursing School. 

         Fr. Thomas Schelble SM, a Marianist, taught Religion, Philosophy, and directed a house of formation for Marianist novices, who studied at the University during the 1960s and 70s.  I understand that he is deceased.

          Brother Robert Wood SM, a Marianist, taught History at the University in the late 1960s.

Brother Esselman SM – worked at the University for a while before having to return to the U.S. because of a terminal brain tumor.  He was in such pain.

Fr. Baumeister SM - taught Religion and Philosophy for a short time.

Fr. Joe Kowalczyk MM - taught religion and Physics at the University in the 1960s and 70s.  At the same time, he was a priest at Our Lady of Pilar parish and had a house of formation for seminarians.  He also did parish work in the Altiplano and in Tacna.  He still helps the poor there today while retired.  He is a former G.E. electrical engineer.  He was ordained Maryknoll priest in 1961 and keeps going in a life of prayer in Maryknoll, NY.  When phone calls to the United States were either very expensive or difficult, he operated a ham radio station.

Fr. Robert Tuhl SJ – taught Math in the University for a few years in the early 1970s.  He wrote a unique Math book that integrated Math with social awareness.  The Math involved  social and economic development problems in Third World countries.  He also taught at Jesuit high schools in Peru and the United States.

        Sr. Elizabeth Roach - is a Maryknoll Sister who was my student in science education at our Universidad Católica de Santa María in the late 1960s.  She worked as a medical technologist in the jungles of Bolivia.  Sister Elizabeth taught for a number of years, including zoology at the Instituto Nacional Agropecuario #19, at 12,000 feet above sea level in Azángaro, Perú. Her students were shepherds and potato farmers who entered secondary school in their late teens.  After her retirement she directed the library at the Maryknoll Sisters Center House in Maryknoll, NY.  

At age 91 and visually impaired, she answers chat questions about the Maryknoll Sisters and does author visits and classes to teachers and children throughout the world via Skype.  She continues to write children's books about the missions.  The books are great to foster mission awareness among our kids, the future of the Church.  You can order her books at  Then search for Elizabeth V. Roach or go to her author page at  She also writes a blog at  WOW!  Nothing stops that nun.

Fr. Gil DeRitis MM – was pastor of the Cerro Colorado neighborhood church on the outskirts of Arequipa, Peru.  It had a school, a credit union, and posta medica during the 1960s.  Jane DeLand was in charge of the posta medica, while Kay Laswell and Fred Turk taught in the school.   I saw him at Maryknoll, NY in 2011.  While reminiscing, he said that was the assignment he enjoyed the most of all.  Fr. Gil died a year or two after I saw him.

          Fr. Parker MM succeeded Fr. Gil as pastor of the parish in Cerro Colorado and died of a heart attack a year or two into his assignment.

E-Mail List

“*?Raymond Kevane – Former National Director PAVLA” <>,
“??Kathy Dwyer Piazza (daughter of Kevin Dwyer former Regional Director for Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Columbia in the 1960s.  She found my blog on PAVLA and wrote me.)” <>,
“Dr. John (Silvia) Keenan – Former Regional Director Andean Countries” <>,
“Bob & Mary Liz Bauer – Field Representative Santiago” <>,

“Virginia Mehigen Wessing - Peru" <>, <>,
"??Marilyn Banjo Neuenswander (married Mario) - Peru" <>,
“Sr. Jane Deland - Peru” <>,
“Dr. Fred & Kay Laswell Turk - Peru” <>,
“Paul R. Sebastian – Arequipa in Peru” <>,

“??Ray & Roberta Bellock – Lima” <>,
“Anita Cook & Bob Anderson - Lima” <>,
“??Denton Hoy – Lima” <>,
“Julia Lesage – Universidad Católica de Lima” <>,
“??Laureen O’Brien – Peru” <>,
“Beth & Wayne Malone – Peru/Chile” <>,
“*???Ron Bosse – Peru & Chile” <>,
“Carolyn Bosse – Peru & Chile” <>, 

“? ?Ray & Gaby Plankey – Chile” <>,
“Kathy & Tony Sebald – Chile” <>,
“?Bart & Jeanette Givens – Santiago” <>, <>,
“Rolando & Isabel Martineau – Chile” <>,
“Peggy Toomey Urzua - Chile” <>, <>,

"Janice Smrekar Albuquerque - Recife in Brazil” <>,
“Lucy Peterson - Nurse Recife in Brazil” <>,
“*??Mary Elizabeth Kelliher – Still Serving in Brazil” <>,

“???Bill Brighoff - Belize” <>,
“Dr. William & Mary Thompson - Jamaica” <>, <>,

"*Jim Campion" <>,

Need E-mail Addresses
Tom Quigley
Isabel Valverde
Martha Ramsey Toledo
Marlene Anderson
Ed & Rita Gorden
Peter Geniesse
Jim Schaefer
Carol Reinkover
Jeannine Ducharme
Genevieve Zandala
Mary Ellen Howardson
Mary Ellen Halverson
Giane (Jeane) Webb Cavalcante

American Religious Who Worked With Us
“Sr. Elizabeth Roach” <>,
“Fr. Joe. Kowalczyk” <>,
“?Fr. Robert Tuhl” <>,

Peace Corps Volunteers Who Worked With Us
“Bob Relyea – Peace Corps in Arequipa-Peru” <>,
“??Mark Tribo – Peace Corps in Arequipa-Peru” <>,
“Daniel Segal – His Mom Elaine Handweiler Peace Corps in Juli” <>,
“*John Lesko” <>,

Kevin Dwyer
Jean Fox – Ex Director of Madonna House Apostolate & ex Papal Volunteer Sicuani, Peru died in the 1990s.
2019 - “Sr. Maria Colabella - Peru” <>,
Tony Sebald
Wayne Malone
Rolando Martineau

Fr. William Morris SM
Fr. Gil De Retis MM
Fr. Parker MM

         John Keenan has an extensive contact list of former Papal Volunteers with addresses and phone numbers.  However, the e-mail addresses are incomplete.  You can e-mail him at <> for more contact information on the person you are looking for.  His contact list includes the following people:

First Name Last Name    

Lima Carrie Aggie
Brazil Janice Albuquerque 
Lima (CUSO) Bob Anderson
Mexico John  Baker
Santiago Bob Bauer
La Paz Bolivia Ann Marie Bedriski
Lima Ray/Roberta Bellock
Lima  Gladys Berry
Juli Caroline Bihn
Santiago Marlys Blomquist
Juli Ron  Bosse
Tacna Mary Lou Brunner

Jim Campion
Arequipa Maria  (Sr.) Colabella
Puno Jim Comes
Temuco Dorothy Conry
Lima Anita Cook
Valparaiso Bob Coyne
Paraguay/Puno Paul Dase
Osorno Pauline DeCosse
Arequipa Jane (Sr.) DeLand
Santiago Belinda Driscoll
Lima Ed Dunn
Lima Doreen  Finseth
Santiago (PC) Dave Fisk
Arequipa Nancy  Flora
Sicuani Bob Gaudio
Chile Donald Gianetti
Santiago Bart Givens
Lima Rita Godlewski
Chillan Ana Maria Gonzalez
Lima Ed Gordon
Osorno Mary Ellen Halverson
Puno Jim Heinzen
Lima Anita Hernanadez
Puno Lou Hogan
Lima Denton Hoy
Lima Jackie Huber
Santiago Mike Juarez
Valparaiso John  Keenan
Santiago Virginia Kennedy
DC, and around Raymond Kevane
Temuco Mavis Kucina 
Arequipa Kay Laswell
Tacna Gladys Lauer
Santiago Emile/Nancy  Leger
Concepcion Millie Lewandowski
Valparaiso Margaret Loughlin

Janice Lynch
Puno/Valpo Beth/Wayne Malone
Valparaiso Rolando Martineau
Tacna Hope Martinez
Tacna Joyce McGunigal
Lima? Edward  McKenna
Juli Jim Norton
Peru Laurene O'Brien
Lima Bernadette O'Reilly
Sicuani Mary     Owens
Temuco Mike Pedersen
Temuco Ray Plankey
Valparaiso Kathy Powers

Nancy  Ryan
Juli Martha  Ramsey
Lima Rose Schopper Cordry
Valparaiso Kathy/Tony Sebald
Arequipa Paul  Sebastian
Lima Pat Simons
Venezuela Sandy Stewart
Venezuela Jane    Till
Chillan June Titus
Santiago Margaret Toomey
Arequipa Fred Turk
Juliaca Joe Wessing
Tacna Julia Van Heusen
Perhaps you can add people to John Keenan"s Contact List


  1. Any Information on Isabel Valverde who was a director of PAVLA from the Centro Bellarmino in Santiago, Chile from 1964-1967?

  2. I'm trying to get in contact with a former PAVLA volunteer...Martha Ramsey (married named I believe is Toledo).

    Martha served in Juli, Peru during the 1960's with my mother (deceased for the past 35 years), Eliane Handweiler...she was in the Peace Corps, from NYC.

    Martha wrote some stories about my Mother and gave me copies back in the 1990s...I am just now re-reading them and wanted to talk to her, thank her, etc...I hope I am not too late. Do you know how I can find her?

    My contact info is below.

    Thank you!


    -Daniel Segal

    (917) 684-8593 cell

  3. still looking for information or a photo of Isabel Valverde , Pavla, Santiago Chile