Tabernacle, other liturgical items find new life in Peru

Lindsay Steele
Deacon Frank Agnoli, diocesan director of Liturgy, looks through used liturgical items at the Chancery in Davenport last month.

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

An assortment of liturgical items no longer in use and stored in the basement of the Diocese of Davenport’s Chancery have found new life in the Diocese of Chulucanas, Peru.


Miguel Moreno, diocesan director of Multicultural Ministry and a native of Peru, facilitated the exchange. He attended seminary while discerning a call to the priesthood in Lima, Peru with the diocese’s now-Bishop Cristobal Mejía. They have kept in touch ever since. “I know most of the diocesan parishes in the mountains need these,” Moreno said of the liturgical items. “Every time I go to Peru, I see the same reality.” Wooden tabernacles are common and parishes sometimes have to get by with chalices that are in poor condition. A priest might have his own chalice to bring to a parish — an ordination gift, perhaps — but the chalice goes with him when he receives a new assignment.

Moreno wondered about the possibility of sending unused liturgical items from the Diocese of Davenport. Deacon Frank Agnoli, director of Liturgy, helped Moreno find gently used items in the Chancery storage area. “We receive (liturgical items) from parishes that are closing or consolidating or don’t need them anymore,” Deacon Agnoli explained. Historically significant items go into the diocesan archives while items beyond repair are disposed of in a reverent manner. Anything that could potentially find new life elsewhere goes into storage. “We serve as that interim place where we can keep them and find them a new home,” Deacon Agnoli said. Moreno selected a tabernacle, thurible (a metal censer in which incense is burned), a set of candelabras and two chalices.

Members of the Asociación Fraternidad Toribiana delivered gently used liturgical items from the Diocese of Davenport to the Diocese of Chulucanas, Peru, in April.

Hand delivering the items was essential, Moreno said. Shipping items to the northern, mountainous region of Peru is expensive and time consuming. It can take up to two years and senders risk shipments that might not arrive. He knew of a local group planning a March 2024 pilgrimage to Peru. Group members offered to deliver the items to Franklyn Cordova, president of Asociación Fraternidad Toribiana. The association, composed of former students of Santo Toribio de Mogrovejo Seminary, offered to clean and repair the items without charge and deliver them to their final destination.

Bishop Mejia sent Moreno an email after receiving the items in late April. “I would like to greet all of you on this occasion and thank you,” he said in Spanish, noting that Catedral Sagrada Familia in Chulucanas will use some of the items. The diocese will celebrate its 60th anniversary later this year. “Reiterating my gratitude, and always united in prayer.”

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