On October 2, 2011, Mons. Salvador Piñeiro García-Calderón took his canonical office as the new Archbishop of Ayacucho. He replaces Mons. Luis Aguirre, SM, Ayacucho’s archbishop from 2001-2011, now retired.
The installation ceremony was held at the city’s 400-year old Cathedral Basilica with a concelebrated mass at 10 a.m. It was a lovely event attended by bishops, priests, religious and lay people from all walks of life of Huamanga. The celebrations started the day before at the Santa Clara Church where the new archbishop consecrated the statue of “Señor de Nazareno” followed by a religious procession in the evening.
On Sunday morning before the church ceremony there was a welcome parade around the city plaza which was attended by school children, teachers, city officials and the police. There were also dances, fireworks and cheers for both the retiring archbishop and the incoming one.
Last September the city had given honours to Mons. Luis Aguirre for his outstanding service as pastor of the archdiocese awarding him the city medal and declaring him “Illustrious Son of Ayacucho”. After the religious ceremony there were speeches and “ brindis de honor” followed by a delicious lunch for all the religious, clergy and visitors at the Centro Cultural de Huamanga.
To represent the Columban Sisters at the celebrations, Sisters Martina Kim and Gloria Santos travelled from Lima to Ayacucho. After the Mass they met Mons. Luis and offered him a small token of gratitude for all the support he has given to the Congregation, especially to Sisters Mary Nolan, Ann Carbon, Sophia Kim and Erisa Lee (who is still working in Ayacucho.) He was delighted to see Srs Martina and Gloria and assured them that the Mental Health Clinic, which is now in hands of the Brothers of Charity, continues to operate. He invited them to visit him in Callao, Lima, where he will be retiring to and where he is from.
Mons. Salvador, upon hearing the name “Columbanas” immediately said that he is good friend of the Columban Sisters whom he has known way back years ago in Lima. He excitedly opened the card which came from the Columban Sisters and sent his thanks for the thoughts and prayers.
Gifted with a charming personality, Mons. Salvador has a great sense of personal closeness to the people. He tried to meet everyone, posed for pictures with them, talked with them and blessed them.
Father Antonio, the parish priest of Vinchos was there as well as a few other religious, priests and lay people who all sent their greetings to the “Hermanitas” (the Sisters)
It was certainly a lovely occasion with a great festive spirit of joy, hope and thanksgiving. But while the Sisters who had worked in Ayacucho before were not physically present, the memory of their missionary presence was still much a part of the spirit of the community they served. And as the story of the church in Huamanga which began in 1609 continues to tell the stories of faith and hope to the people, we pray the Lord will keep watch over his newly appointed pastor and strengthen his brothers and sisters.