In 1961, the Columbans had maintained a mission presence in the Latin American countries of Peru and Chile for about a decade.
They had accomplished much great work there and their presence was expanding in those nations. Several Columban Fathers, including Owen O’Kane and John M. McFadden had also served in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in a special ministry for sailors.
Recognizing the increasing complexity and needs of the Columban missions in South America, in November 1961 the Columban leadership officially made South America a separate mission Pro-Region.
This meant that the missions in South America would have greater autonomy and more flexibility to deal with “conditions on the ground.” Father Owen O’Kane would be the first Director of this new Columban Pro-Region.
In 1963, the first Columban Sisters arrived in Peru, and the missions in South America continued to expand, including the new Columban mission in Brazil in 1985.
The new Columban South American Pro-Region was setting the stage for more decades of outstanding Columban work in that continent.