ACN helps missionary Sisters working in remote regions
All over South America, small groups of brave Sisters are risking everything to reach out to and serve small, isolated and often very poor communities in remote areas. Enduring extreme heat, cold and weather conditions – sometimes putting their lives at risk – these Sisters walk for miles to bring Christ’s message to remote mountainous and desert regions where the Church, for lack of priests and resources, does not have a regular presence. Apart from pastoral work and attending to the local people’s spiritual needs, the Sisters often help the poor and provide basic healthcare for the sick and elderly. Although the Sisters are loved by the communities they serve, the people in these remote regions are very poor and unable to support the Sisters. They rely on aid from ACN and generous benefactors to carry on with their mission.
CHILE – Venturing out into the desert to serve remote communities
Brenda, Berta and Lydia are three brave religious Sisters from the religious order of Martha and Mary who live up to their foundress’ motto “Love and sacrifice”. They left their homeland and came to Chile to evangelize in northern region, in the gorge of Camiña -. Physically small but spiritually strong, with patience and wisdom these Sisters are contributing to the revitalization of the region.
Camiña is a fertile ravine in the midst of the driest desert in the world. Every one of the twelve towns or village there has a chapel, but they hardly ever get a visit from a priest not even once a month. The Sisters therefore go to the homes, baptize children and adults and teach the catechism to the local people. Assisted by the churchwarden Lorenzo, they also are in charge of the main church, a huge recently restored building where thousands of people gather for the festivities of the patron saints.
Aid to the Church in Need has been asked to help the Sisters buy a car to travel between villages and fix and improve the simple house in a square where they live. The Sisters’ daily food is mostly provided by the community that shares all their crops with them: corn, garlic, carrots, beets and other vegetables.
COLOMBIA – Overcoming challenges to work with indigenous people
In the hill country of Colombia four Vincentian sisters – also known as Sisters of Mercy – have been working since 1997, ministering to the indigenous peoples of the region. They provide medical care, visit families, teach the children. The crime rate is high, for the indigenous Indian peoples tend to live on the margins of society. They have also suffered for many years from the scourge of civil war, with the result that the Church has a great deal of work to do in the way of rebuilding peace.
The work the sisters do is difficult. The local people speak a variety of different languages, which are difficult to learn. Even though many children and adults can also speak Spanish, it is nevertheless essential to be able to provide the catechetical instruction and pastoral care in their own native languages. Nor is it easy to earn the trust of the indigenous peoples here, since there is a latent mistrust towards “the whites”. Despite this, however, the people respect the sisters as religious.
Perhaps the biggest challenge lies in the great distances and the sheer inaccessibility of the region. The sisters sometimes have to walk for up to 7 hours on foot in order to reach the villages. So, not surprisingly, they have turned to ACN for help to obtain a vehicle. We are more than happy to help and have promised them 11,000 Euros.
PERU – Reaching out to isolated villages in the Andes
The congregation of the Missionaries of the Immaculate Virgin Mary and St Catherine of Siena was founded in 1914 in Colombia. Their foundress and in particular love and concern for the indigenous peoples of Latin America. Today the sisters are present in more than a dozen different countries of the continent. They also have houses in Rome and Madrid and are now present in Africa as well.
In Peru the sisters have been present for 50 years now in the diocese of Abancay, which lies in the Andes mountains, and the sisters here are ministering to the people of 49 villages, most of which are difficult to reach. Some of the villages could be reached once a week by bus, which sets off early on Monday morning, between 2 and 4 a.m. and does not return until Friday. But even then the sisters still had to walk for several hours to reach some of the other villages. Before this they even had to travel on horseback.
So the sisters turned in their need to ACN for help to obtain a vehicle that could cope with the appalling road conditions. Thanks to the generosity of our benefactors, we were able to provide 15,400 Euros – and now they have been able to purchase a vehicle, with which they can visit the people in the villages much more frequently. The sisters ask us to pass on their heartfelt thanks to all our benefactors!