JOURNEY WITH ACN is our Friday newsletter which will be regularly posted to our blog. Our weekly newsletter was designed to provide us with an opportunity to acquaint you with the needs of the Catholic Church around the world – and with some of the projects we have been able to realize together with ACN benefactors.
This week: BRAZIL
A missionary says thank you
Adapted by ACN Canada
Father Peter Shekleton found his vocation in 1991 as he sat in London’s Westminster Cathedral listening to the preaching of Father Werenfried van Straaten, ACN’s founder. Now he is working as a missionary in the Amazon region of Brazil.
Since January 2012, Father Peter has worked in the parish of Barcelos which extends over a vast mostly uninhabited area. Most of its 25,000 inhabitants live in the town of Barcelos itself, but there are also 45 settlements of varying sizes on the Rio Negro and its 10 tributaries, most of them difficult to reach and some requiring 3 to 4 days by boat.
The majority of people living in these settlements are nominally Catholic, but the sects are very active in this area, trying to woo away the faithful. Therefore, it has become important for a priest to make regular visits, including the most distant settlements. For this reason, our generous benefactors have already helped Father Shekleton with $60,000 for the purchase of a river boat. He has written to tell us about his work:
“I began my work with an old boat belonging to the parish, which was very basic and very much in need of repairs. I was advised not to waste money on repairs but rather to buy a new boat. But why? The parishes are very poor and could by no means afford the cost of the new boat.” So Father Peter had to go on using the old and damaged boat to travel to the remote riverside villages. At least, after a time, he was able to purchase an outboard motor.
“There are many rapids, dangerous currents, hidden rocks and constantly shifting sand banks, and also many dangerous eddies. And one is also exposed to heavy storms and scorching sun – to say nothing of the fact that the water is full of crocodiles, piranha and snakes. At night time you have to hang up your hammock and sleep in it, which leaves you a prey to mosquitoes, bringing malaria and other infectious diseases. Last year I caught malaria.”
“I often come back happy from these journeys into the wilderness, because I have done what I believe to have been my duty. But at the same time I am also saddened by the godlessness of many people. Since the satellite dishes have advanced even into the remotest corners of the jungle, many people are starting to be influenced by the anti-values, such as hedonism, individualism, consumerism and relativism that are typical of our age. They are being robbed of their religiosity and dignity and encouraged to yearn for a life that has nothing to do with their reality. This results in many people no longer turning to God, and many of the chapels are now abandoned, or at least in a poor state. There is a great deal of alcohol abuse and sexual promiscuity. Nevertheless, I am firmly convinced that this is my mission and that the Church must continue to be present: “Preach the word; in season and out of season…” (2 Tim 4:2). For now, this Church is just me and my boat, given by ACN.”