Father Denis Hébert
Denis Hébert was born July 21, 1930 in Villeneuve, Alberta, the thirteenth of 15 children of Rosaire and Marie Hébert. After spending his childhood in the small farming community, Denis felt called to the priesthood at a young age, and in 1952 he entered St. Joseph’s Seminary.
In March 1958 he was ordained a priest and served in several parishes in and around the Archdiocese of Edmonton before being appointed to a parish in Lima, Peru in June 1969. His work in Lima was to develop a pastoral program in “Christ the Light of the World” parish, and the goal of this mission was to strengthen the Christian communities in that area. The young priest’s preparation soon proved to be an ineffective cushion for the shock of daily living in these Third World shantytowns -- an experience that soon erased his youthful naivety. However, he persisted and his eventual success in Lima marked the beginning of his lifelong mission in the Third World.
Father Denis spent the next seven years in Peru before moving to Panama City where he worked with Father Joe McGuckin in administration and doing some fieldwork visiting cooperatives with the Inter-American Cooperative Institute (ICI). Fifteen months later, he was working with a Scarboro Missions team on the Caribbean Island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, where he spent eight years in the Parish of Layou.
In July 1986, he returned to Peru and spent two years at the “St. Joseph the Worker” parish. Here he renewed his commitment to his vision of more effective social development while working with a group of young people and adults in the town of Chiclayo in association with Scarboro missions.
In 1990, Father Denis relocated to Managua, Nicaragua to develop a Social Pastoral program among worker-enterprises and farming communities in the Somotillo region. He continues to reside in Managua where his dedicated vision of improving the spiritual, human and economic conditions of people in Latin America has inspired so many to become involved in the grassroots movement that he has created.