Virtually unknown in her own home parish, Sister Joan Sawyer is remembered as a hero and a perhaps even a saint in Lima where each year on December 14th the anniversary of the day she, along with seven of the prisoners she administered to in Lurigancho Prison, was slaughtered.
Black Wednesday is how 14th December 1983 is remembered in Lima.
In the years since Sister Joan’s death the prisoners have continued to be inspired by her love and sacrifice. Each year on the anniversary of her death they recall her dedication to reconciliation and her quiet service. The inmates of cell blocks 6 and 8 who knew Joan best sold their allowance of bread and donated the money to buy the oil paints necessary for a large mural of their own design: Joan between two lions, one fierce looking, one calm. The mural is touched up each year in preparation for December 14th when an anniversary Mass is offered on the patio of Pavilion 6. The scant collection of books in the Pavilion which is called the library, has been renamed impressively: “Biblioteca Juana Sawyer”.
Evening Mass will be offered in her home parish of Antrim in memory of Sister Joan on Friday 14th Dec in St Joseph’s Church at 7.00pm. Few deserve to be remembered by us as a parish as she does.
Please come along to this special Mass in her memory and give thanks for her life’s work in Peru’s prisons; a life that ended so tragically when she was shot dead in the back of an ambulance.
Sister Joan’s Story can be read on our parish website under the ‘Features’ heading.