Sister Margaret Kilduff

Kilduff, Margaret PegA teacher, catechist, women’s and human rights promoter, and community development organizer, Sister Margaret Kilduff has been a Maryknoll Sister for 65 years.

She  entered Maryknoll on September 6, 1950, from St. Bridget’s Parish,  Johnson, RI, and, following completion of her bachelor’s degree in education at Maryknoll Teachers College, was assigned to the Bolivia/Peru Region in 1956.

Following a year of language study in Cochabamba, Bolivia, she was sent to Puno, Peru, where she taught the indigenous people of the Altiplano. In 1958 she was assigned to Arequipa, the White City of Peru, where,  with another Sister started a  parish school, Nuestra Señora de los Dolores,  in the district of Cerro Colorado.  Sister Peg, as she is more commonly known, taught elementary school, while also doing pastoral and catechetical work at the parish in her spare time.

Next, she was sent to Lima, where she taught at Colégio Parroquial Santa Rosa de Lima, the first parochial school in Peru, founded by   Maryknoll Father John Lawler, MM. Sister Peg was engaged in teaching and the formation of teachers at the parish school, as well as being involved in catechesis until 1965.

In 1966 she moved to the district of Caja de Agua, also in Lima, where she did pastoral work among the marginalized and very poor people who had migrated from the Altiplano and settled in this part of the city, one of the newly formed shanty towns in Lima.

She took summer courses in theology at the Catholic University of Santiago, Chile, from which she received a diploma in catechetics in 1967. Then she moved to Ciudad de Dios, a shanty town in Lima. Sister Peg did pastoral work in this area, accompanying the people in their struggle to achieve their rights for a humane living condition, health needs,  education for their children and a stable job.

Then, in 1969, Sister Peg returned to the Altiplano where she worked at the Institute of Rural Education (IER) in Juli among the Aymara indigenous people. The Institute was designed to give theoretical and practical courses in family and health education, farming and community development.  Her ministry there was to help people get a sense of their own worth and dignity.  As she visited the graduates of the Institute she saw that they were usually a great spark in their local communities mainly because they had a newly discovered confidence in their own abilities.

In 1974, Sister Peg was asked to return to New York to work in the Maryknoll Sisters General Assembly Task Force (GATAF).  After the Assembly she stayed on to take courses at the Maryknoll Graduate School of Theology in New York, receiving her M.A. in religious studies in 1976.

She returned to Lima in 1977, where she was engaged in pastoral work in another shanty town,                         Caja de Agua in the Chacarilla de Otero section of Lima where new arrivals from the countryside carve out  a living space from the desert.  She also took some summer courses in theology at the Catholic University of Lima for the Latin American touch to her New York studies, at the same time working at the Center of Social Communications.

Involved in human rights for workers, her mornings were spent in visiting national offices, lawyers, prisons or hospitals.  Afternoons were devoted to home visiting and writing for popular newspapers.  In the evenings she worked with small neighborhood Christian communities , whose members met regularly to talk about conditions of daily life, share Scripture and take actions  that came from their discussions and prayer together.

From 1987-1997, Sister Peg worked in San Juan de Lurigancho, another shanty town in Lima where she did human rights  work during the terrible years of “Sendero Luminoso” (Shining Path) during which many lived in fear, people disappeared or were assassinated. Sister Peg’s work involved helping the local people  organize a network of communications via the establishment of small libraries throughout the district.

Sister Peg then worked in San Juan de Miraflores, a very poor area on the desert coast of Lima, doing catechetical work.  She trained youth to be mentors of children and helpers of parents  involved in the local parish where she served, as well participants in the liturgies of the Family Catechesis Program.

At the same time, Sister Peg worked in the Communications Office of the Diocese of Lurin, serving there from 1997-2007, when she retired.  In retirement she started a Pax Christi group with other Maryknoll Sisters in Lima. Five years later, it became the first group of Pax Christi in Latin America to achieve full membership with Pax Christi International.

Sister Peg continues a ministry of formation of laity, both adults and youth, as well as her Human Rights and Justice and Peace work, sparked by the same passion for social justice that has always motivated her mission.  She resides in the same shanty town of Lima in the district of Pamplona Alta with another Maryknoll Sister actively involved in the lives of the people accompanying them and making God’s love visible in their life and work among them.