Friends, brothers in the faith and brothers of the Order

The Sing Barreda family, Sister General of the Order, helped the Augustinian Recollects in their beginnings in Cañete (Peru); the religious showed them the way of faith.

The Cañete Valley is one of the richest and most fertile valleys in Peru, located south of Lima. Its good climate and enormous potential has historically attracted Peruvians from other regions and foreigners. It was for this reason that Chinese businessman Alfredo Sing Maa arrived in Cañete, like many Asians who landed in Latin America in the first decades of the 20th century. Influenced directly by oriental culture, the foreigner had no faith whatsoever. In Cañete he met Justa Barreda García, Peruvian, with whom he married and from whom eight children were born.

His path would cross years later with that of the Augustinian Recollects, specifically with that of a religious. In 1944, the Order established its first community in the region, made up of three religious. A few years later, the presence had grown to the point of having three parishes in Cañete, Cerro Alegre and San Vicente, as well as a school. The pastoral action was remarkable. As Bishop Emiliano Cisneros points out in his book ‘Andanzas Recoletas’, “the presence of the priest was continuous”. Such was the impact of the religious that in 1952 they administered 1,439 baptisms, 125 marriages and attended to 96 sick people.

It was that year when the Augustinian Recollect Ángel Latorre arrived in Cañate, a fundamental character in history. While working as a parish priest in Cañete, he established important relationships with the people of the region. Among them, with Mr. Alfredo. The religious and the father of the family struck up a friendship, and the businessman offered his help to the religious community that was then beginning its mission in the region. In one of their meetings, Angel Latorre handed over a catechism in Chinese. It was a gift that had been difficult for him to obtain but with which he wanted to show his friend the faith that had made him leave everything and give himself as an Augustinian Recollect religious.

The gift was not in vain. It was the beginning of a journey that culminated in the best way: Alfredo Sign converted to Catholicism, was baptized and married his wife Justa Barreda before God. His children were also baptized. The family included the Order of Augustinian Recollects and their religious as a member, especially Father Angel. Such was their dedication to the Augustinian Recollects and to the Church that the Order of Augustinian Recollects named the couple and their children brothers general. The Prior General Eugenio Ayape issued the recognition on January 22, 1959. The act was carried out in the most absolute intimacy.

The children of the family maintained this disposition and affection for the Order of Augustinian Recollects. America, who passed away in 2019, dedicated herself to painting and sculpture. From his hands came a beautiful image of St. Rita of Cascia that the Sing family donated to the Order.

Roberto Sign, merchant and photographer, continued the link with the religious. A Knight of the Holy Sepulcher, he attended Mass daily. “Roberto has always been close to the friars,” recalls his brother Clemente. On April 10, 2021, the Vicariate of Peru notified his death in Cañete, where his father felt attracted by God and, with the Augustinian Recollect Ángel Latorre, established bonds of community and faith.