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Dublin: 17°C Monday 15 August 2022

Irish missionary set to return to Peru despite being shot by armed gang

Fr Desmond was attacked by an armed gang after he withdrew money to pay builders working on the primary school.

Image: Diócesis de Chosica via Facebook

A 70-YEAR-OLD Irish priest is said to be recovering well after he was shot while returning from a bank in Peru last month.

Father Gerard Desmond is a columban missionary who has spent the last 20 years working in the slum district of San Juan de Lurigancho, outside Lima in Peru.

Last month Fr Desmond was attacked after he withdrew the equivalent of €1,655 to pay builders who were working on the only primary school in the area.

As he got out of his car, another car stopped behind him and three men – two armed with guns – demanded the money.

Fr Desmond didn’t want to part with the parish money and tried to fight them off but they hit him on the head with the revolver and shot him in both legs above the knee before making off with the cash.

An ex-policeman from Venezuela was working on a nearby building site and saw what happened. He bandaged the priest’s wounds and drove him to the nearest hospital.

Father Desmond had two leg wounds after being shot in both legs and received fourteen stitches to his head.

The bullets went through the fleshy part of his thighs and hit no bones or arteries. The bullets lodged in his front door.

A niece of Desmond, Deirdre Hansen, told that her uncle is recovering well and the stitches have been removed from his head.

He is the toughest guy, he will not complain.

She added that her uncle”knew that this could possibly happen”.

“He’s lived there for more than 20 years, he knows the risks.”

She added that Fr Desmond insisted on still making a trip to the US, that had been previously planned, just days after the attack. “He is not complaining about it and is not making a thing of the whole incident.

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“The only thing he has said is that it was ridiculous to try to fight them off and that he shouldn’t have done that.

“He doesn’t act his age, he has always been very fit and there’s no stopping him.

He loves what he does and he works really hard at it. He makes a difference, he won’t ever toot his own horn but he’s an amazing person.

A nephew of Father Desmond, Michael Kelleher has set up a Go Fund Me page to try to recoup the money stolen. It states:

“Any money raised will go to the parish to pay the builders and any surplus will be spent on improving facilities in the school.”

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