Br. Jomar Castillo, SDB (Brasil-Manaus)
Manaus, Brazil: From November 1-4, 2018, the Salesians (SDB-FMA) in the Amazonian Region gathered in Manaus/AM to reflect upon the 125 years of missionary activity within the territory, the challenges of the present, and lines-of-action necessary to plan for the future with renewed vigor. More than 100 SDBs, FMAs, lay catechists, ministers, coordinators and experts from different provinces, experts, indigenous peoples, and other religious sisters where invited enriching every session.
Fr. Jefferson Santos, SDB, provincial of Manaus (BMA) challenged the participants in his welcome address saying: “This is a privileged opportunity for us to look at our identity and mission on the geopolitical situation of this vast territory in which we work to once again collaborate with the universal Church.”
The speakers were (1) Fr. Justino Sarmento Rezende, SDB, a native Tuyuka, member of the preparatory commission for Pan-Amazonia presented the preparatory document of the Synod and the Salesian vision of the synod; (2) Fr. Juan Botasso, SDB, shared about the in Salesian Missions in South America; (3) Jose Juncosa shared the socio-political, cultural and religious situation of the Amazon; (4) Fr. Diego Clavijo, SDB shared his experience working with the Achuar and Shuar people; and (5) Ir. João Gutenberg, FMS, da Rede Pan-Amazonica (REPAM), presented the Laudato Si and the vision of the young people of the Amazon. were among the invited speakers. Mons. Angel Davisson, SDB, member of the preparatory commission of the Synod was also present. The general councilors of the Mission Sector, Fr. Guillermo Basañes, SDB and Sr. Alaide Diretti, FMA were present. The permanent deacons from the Shuar-Ashuar tribe shared their ministerial journey.
“We would like to be in harmony with the Church, who prepares for the Synod of Pan-Amazonia”, said Fr. Martin Lasarte, SDB, Missions Sector. The encounter is principally for the missionary presences of Pan-Amazonica: the provinces of Brazil - Manaus in the state of Amazonas (BMA and 2 FMA Provinces), Brazil – Campo Grande (BCG and 2 FMA Provinces) in the state of Mato Grosso, Columbia, Ecuador (ECU), Paraguay (PAR), Peru (PER) and Venezuela (VEN).
During the small group meetings, provinces presented to the assembly a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Strength) Analysis of their context to help the participants. The last day, the assembly was divided into respective provinces and regions in order to propose lines of action for their respective missionary activities and for the synod proper.
In the encounter, there were three missionaries from the EAO: Fr. Agustin Togo, SDB (INA) from Ecuador working with the community of the Achuar, Br. Jose Maria Castillo, SDB (FIN) from the Brasil-Manaus working among the interior river catholic communities and youth center, and Sr. Úrsula Guimarães, FMA (ITM) from Brasil-Campo Grande among the Bororos.
Missionaries from EAO in the meeting: Br. Jomar (FIN to Brasil-Manaus), Fr. Agustin (INA to Ecuador) and Sr. Ursula (ITM to Brasil-Campo Grande)
The fruitful encounter ended seeing the delegates from different provinces with enkindled a renewed vigor, and with a strong commitment to continue with courage, hope and enthusiasm the Salesian mission among the indigenous minorities.
Some information about the Salesian Pan-Amazonian Missions:
THE PRESENCE of the Salesian charism in Amazonia is very significant. The Salesians are currently working in 35 missionary communities in the service of the people in not less than 44 ethnic groups: Xavante, Bororo, Terena, Guarní, Kaiowá, Kinikianau, Atikum, Guató, Ofaié, Ka-diwíeu, KuraBakairi, Tukano, Tariano, Dessano, Piratapuia, Hupda, Cubeo, Uanano, Barassanos, Mirititapuia, Ara-passo, Tuyuca, Carapanasso, Bare, Shuar, Achuar, Shawi, Kandozi, Wampis, Awajun, Kechua, Chapra, Kucamacu-camilla, Shivillo, Arawacos, Hiwi, Piaroa, Yanomami, Yekuana, Senema-Yekauana, Ayoreo, Maskoy, Ishir, Tomaraio. Aside from the presences among indigenous peoples, Salesians work in Pan-Amazônia among Catholic communities along the river systems and urban centers. All of these pertain to the vast and rich ecology of the region.
THE YOUNG PEOPLE of the immense and fascinating Amazon await for the sons and daughters of Don Bosco to share the faith in the Salesian style, building together a Church which has the character proper for the Amazon, which may be not only the oxygen lung of the planet, but also a spiritual lung, where the encounter between Christ and indigenous cultures enriches all humanity.
THE POSTER shows the rich and complex diversity of the region of Pan-Amazonia and the principal recipients of the Salesian work: children and youth. The images allow us to admire the urban centers, the life along the river systems, the mountains as sacred symbols, the flora and fauna. At the center, the poster has the logo of the Synod manifesting communion with the Church.
According to the data from REPAM (Pan Amazonian Ecclesial Network), in the Amazon region, live 2,779,478 people divided into 390 indigenous peoples and 147 peoples who live in isolation. They speak 240 different languages, from 49 linguistic branches in the point of view of history and culture. A “New World” that is really immense and bearer of great values. The announcement of the Synod for Pan-Amazonia on October 2019 is proof of the promise of the Holy Father with a Church who seeks to change its way of ministering in Amazonia. And the Salesians? The spiritual sons of Don Bosco live among them.
Some Jovens Salesianos do Rio Negrense
Fr. Justino Sarmento Rezende, SDB, from the Tuyuka tribe, member of the pre-synodal commission member
Visit to one indigenous community in Manaus
Salesianos, Salesianas and young people from Manaus
Permanent deacons from the Shuar-Ashuar tribe.
One of the interactive session about Laudato Si
Participants with Bishop Jose Angel Davisson, SDB (blue long sleeved shirt), pre-synod commission member.
Indigenous young people form Iauarete sharing their experience of the Salesian Mission
Final Mass, St. John Bosco Parish, Manaus (Centro), Achuar deacon