Sister Peggy O’Neill
By Elizabeth Bunch
In the small charming city of Suchitoto, Sister Peggy (Margaret Ann) O’Neill can often be found laughing and visiting with friends or guests in the Museo Cafe of the Centro Arte para la Paz (Center of Art for Peace)–or purposefully walking on the beautiful walkways around the plaza of the Museum of Art and History and institute of the arts–or proudly (could we venture such a word for such a humble life in the Sisters of Charity) showing guests the renovation of the church, part of which will be used for performances of the music, theater, and dance classes taught at the center–or talking on her cell phone to someone who has a question or request. The center is a renovation of a convent abandoned during the civil war of the 1980’s.
In the past are her stories of atrocities of the war which so dictated El Salvador’s history and Sister Peggy’s life, and today was her sharing of intense hope and excitement about the future. The center employs museum guides, teachers, librarians, workers in the lodging in which we stayed overnights and the cafe and gift shop which accepts excellent quality handmade goods. One example of the items available are purses made by Flavia, whom Sister Peggy explained had risen from a horrendous personal situation to make and market the purses. Sister Peggy was using one herself.
Sister Peggy has just turned 79 and has worked on the center’s projects since its founding in 1995. She has arranged for the work not only to continue but expand in the years to come.
Dear Sr Peggy,
You may not remember us, but we remember you. We are 2 former Iona College students of yours, who are now colleagues at The Ursuline School in New Rochelle, NY. Patrice actually traveled with you to Peru in the late ’80’s. We now work on various service and global education projects with our 800 young women, grades 6-12.
We were so happy to “find” you on the internet and learn. When you are in New York next, would you be willing to come and speak with our students about your incredible social justice lifelong work?
Patrice McDermott ’88
Maria Perdoncin Barton ’87
Excited to hear about your work and honors.
I studied abroad to El Salvador in 2006 and Sister Peggy was one of the most memorable people we met and interacted with on our journey. I’m so happy to hear she has continued her mission and is still touching people’s lives!