Sister Irene McCormack

Kate Elias

About Sister Irene McCormack

Irene McCormack was a member of the Congregation of Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart. She was born in Western Australia on 21 August 1938, she grew up on a farm near Trayning. She received schooling from the Sisters of St Joseph. She was sent to boarding school at Santa Maria College in Attadale, Western Australia. By the age of 15 she had decided that she wanted to be a nun. She joined the Sisters of St Joseph in 1956 and spent the next few years teaching in country areas of Western Australia. After a few years of teaching she decided she wanted to serve the poor, so in 1987 she arrived in Peru for missionary work.

At about 6pm on 21 May 1991 an armed band of members of Sendero Luminoso entered the town of Huasahuasi. They took 4 men from their homes and then went to the convent where Sister McCormack was alone. They forced her to come out and then marched her to the central plaza and made her sit on a bench. During the night a group of young people from the village gathered around McCormack and managed to move her back into the crowd, but the guerrillas soon noticed that she was not there and returned her to the bench. Eventually the 5 prisoners were ordered to lie face down on the terrazzo-tiled surface of the plaza. Each was shot once in the back of the head. McCormack was the first to be killed and was about 6 metres from the door of the church.