Year Joined MKLM: 2013
Country: El Salvador
City: Zaragoza, La Libertad
Ministry: Zaragoza Nutrition Program
Ministry Area: Sustainable Development
Goals of Ministry: To work with local people in the community of Zaragoza to identify and respond to food insecurity and other basic needs.
47% of Salvadorans experienced food insecurity in 2021, and recent inflation has exacerbated the situation. Addressing food insecurity and hunger is a UN Sustainable Development goal.
Pete and his wife, Melissa, live and work in the town of Zaragoza in the La Libertad department. They are currently working in the rural community of Asuchio. The community has been profoundly affected by the violence that is endemic in El Salvador and many young people have been forced to migrate. Many residents live in temporary homes and lack basic services such as electricity and running water. Pete and Melissa are working with local leaders to identify families that are food insecure and to provide them resources. In 2023, Pete and Melissa will move the Soy Nutrition Program, a Maryknoll Lay Missioners program co-founded and led by Ann Greig since 1994, to Zaragoza to continue its mission of providing nutrition to the most vulnerable.
Pete also works in the community of El Cedro in Panchimalco on a project to build dignified homes for vulnerable women with children who live in makeshift housing. And he and Melissa are helping their local parish, Nuestra Señora de Pilar, to strengthen the social outreach program to better respond to the needs of the many vulnerable families in Zaragoza.
Peter is originally from Bellerose Village, New York, and most recently lived in Long Beach, New York, where he was a member of St. Ignatius Martyr Parish. He has a bachelor of arts in classics and anthropology from Pomona College, California, and a master in theology from St. John’s University, New York. Peter was executive director of Good Shepherd Volunteers, an organization that works with children and women affected by neglect, poverty and violence. He taught history and religion at Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School and eighth grade at St. Cecilia School in Brooklyn. Peter also worked as a housing and school community organizer and as a lay pastoral associate at St. Peter Claver Parish, Brooklyn.
Peter and his wife, Melissa, live in El Salvador with their two children, Elijah and Evangelina. Peter also has an adult daughter, Mariana, who lives in the U.S. and recently served as a Jesuit Volunteer.
Peter began his ministry in La India, a semi-rural community outside of Cojutepeque. He provided educational, personal development and recreational opportunities to the underserved children and youth through San Juan Bautista Parish. He helped students stay in school by promoting reading and literacy. Peter encouraged children and youth to develop their unique gifts, talents and teamwork skills with games, other dynamics and painting. Pete later spent two years working at a shelter for internally displaced Salvadorans who were victims of violence.