On Saturday, 28 April 2018, Columban missionary Fr Gerard Desmond was attacked by three armed men as he arrived at his residence in the Parish of Christ the Liberator, in the slum district of San Juan de Lurigancho, outside of Lima, Peru.
Preparing to go on holidays, Fr Gerard had driven to the bank to withdraw money to pay bills and salaries in the parish before he left.
He had withdrawn the equivalent of US$2,000 from the local bank.
He drove back to his parish and as he got out of his car to open the gate, a car stopped behind him, and three men, two with guns drawn, demanded the money that he had withdrawn.
Gerard refused to hand it over so they hit him with the revolver butt on the head and shot him in both legs above the knee.
Luckily the bullets went through the fleshy part of his thighs and hit no bones or arteries and lodged in the parish door. A man working on a building site nearby, apparently an ex-policeman from Venezuela, saw what happened, rushed to him, bandaged his wounds and drove him to the nearest hospital.
Gerard got nine stitches in the side of his head and several more on the leg wounds, but as of today he was released from hospital and is apparently none the worse for what happened.
Fr Gerry Desmond (73) grew up in Swords, Co. Dublin. He was educated at O’Connell Schools, and entered Dalgan in 1963.
He was ordained priest in 1969 and assigned to Korea, to the Chunchon District, where he served from 1974-1979. He worked in Canada from 1979-1987, and has served in various parishes in Peru since then.
Fr Cyril Lovett SSC, Communications Office, St Columban’s, Navan, Co Meath.
Read Columban missionary, Sr Maura Gallahue’s account of what happened to Fr Gerard Desmond and life in San Juan de Lurigancho, outside of the Peruvian capital, Lima: https://www.catholicireland.net/irish-missionary-tackled-robbers-shot/