On February 12, 2020, we were blessed with the publication of Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Querida Amazonia. The date is very significant for us who reside in the Amazon Region because it coincides with the commemoration of the martyrdom of Sister Dorothy Stang who was murdered fifteen years ago. She was a member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame of Namur and ministered in Brazil beginning in1966. She was always accompanied by workers and campesinos. She was engaged in the struggle to defend those individuals most in need and in the struggle to defend the common home. She was a woman of great faith and her testimony of life has inspired those missionaries who followed her.
The document that the Holy Father published is a letter of love and respect for our beloved Amazon. This Exhortation helps us to deepen our gratitude for this land so rich in beauty, in fruits and in loving people. To dream with the people of this region is to dream about a world that is getting better. We need to be able to admire and to care for our Common Home. In fact, the Amazon Region is a treasure, not a land to be discovered and not a land to be exploited, but a land to be contemplated with admiration and zealously cared for.
When the Pope outlines in this document his dreams, we are reminded about the words of the poet who stated: When we dream alone it is only a dream, but when many dream together, it is the beginning of a new reality. Hopefully the dreams of Pope Francis become reality and also become our dreams. We pray that more missionaries are willing to minister in this region, in the midst of this warm climate and welcoming people. We want to learn with the indigenous people to care for this common home and to not exploit it.
As missionaries who live and minister in accord with the charism that we have inherited from Saint Vincent, we are called to internalize and to dream together with our beloved Pope Francis: I dream of an Amazon region that fights for the rights of the poor, the original peoples and the least of our brothers and sisters, where their voices can be heard and their dignity advanced. I dream of an Amazon region that can preserve its distinctive cultural riches, where the beauty of our humanity shines forth in so many varied ways. I dream of an Amazon region that can jealously preserve its overwhelming natural beauty and the superabundant life teeming in its rivers and forests. I dream of Christian communities capable of generous commitment, incarnate in the Amazon region, and giving the Church new faces with Amazonian features (Querida Amazona, 7). Here we are dealing with a social dream: that of walking beside those who are oppressed; a cultural dream: that of caring for the Amazon polyhedron; an environmental dream: that of joining join together to care for the environment and to care for one another; an ecclesial dream: that of promoting and giving a dynamic to a Church with an Amazon face.
With the Amazon Synod and the publication of this document, the Amazon has become better known … with the help of God may it also become more respected and valued!
To live in Rondonia, in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon, is to imply an accumulation of experiences; it is to live in the midst of a reality that challenges us. Nevertheless, the mission has its beauty and its richness. Indeed, to evangelize in this vast region involves a commitment to make the kingdom of God present in the world (Evangelii Gaudium, 176), to put aside one’s self interests in order to reach out to others with a sense of openness to the surprises of kingdom. One must minister with faith and joy in this great undertaking which is the work of God. We are called together to be God’s collaborators and to not allow ourselves to be robbed of our missionary enthusiasm (Evangelii Gaudium, #80). We must not forget that we are instruments in the hands of the Lord of the harvest. Therefore, to be involved in such a missionary work implies a friendly and prophetic presence, a presence that communicates God’s love and mercy through one’s words and actions.
In accord with the charism of Saint Vincent, we ought to unite as a Vincentian Family and form iterant missionary teams that proclaim the Good News to the poor and that defend their cause. We ought to struggle together with and for the large masses of poor people in this region, allowing ourselves to be challenged by them, creating a church that goes out to encounter those who are in need our presence and support. We are grateful for this region, for its incredible beauty, for the richness that it offers to everyone. The Amazon has a beauty that should be maintained and that a culture that should be preserved. This region is a source of life and joy and happiness for all those who reside there.
Fr. Gustavo Alivino Silva, CM
Province of Rio de Janeiro
Itapuã do Oeste