We Live at the Edge

By: Fr. Alejandro Gobenciong, SVD

Ten Priests in Ten Years
When I returned to Argentina after my renewal course in Nemi, Rome, I got a new assignment to a new parish, the parish of San Jose. This parish includes four large zones. We are two priests and ten religious sisters. We have thirty nine chapels and communities in all. This parish covers almost one fourth of the entire Diocese of Iguazu. In the last ten years ten priests worked here without noticeable success for the some reasons: 1) Because the parish is remote and very big. 2) The parishioners are mostly poor immigrants from Brazil working on lands without land ownership, without titles; 3) And the priests who have worked here usually do not survive for long.

Basic Needs
We started working on lay leaders’ formation, family catechism and bible studies. This is a remote preparation for the celebration of the word in the outlaying Christian communities. We now have two urban centers and thirty seven basic Christian communities at about one hundred forty kms. from end to end of the entire parish. Our three main needs are: 1) daily food; 2) the car maintenance and 3) pastoral funds and materials to be able to train our lay leaders better.

They Speak Portuguese
The children can hardly read and write. Among the adults one has difficulty in finding someone who can read. They are mainly agricultural workers. They plant Tobacco, cereal and root crops. There are no industries here. There no industries here. Since we are the border of Argentina with Brazil the population speaks Portuguese and purchases all their needs in Brazil which has cheaper prices. Mostly the roads are not in good condition and the communities can not be reached during rainy days.

Simple Times
We have no church or parish house. We make use of the parish catechetical hall as a church and a house. We cook our own food, we wash our own clothes and we do the house cleaning ourselves. The parishioners give us fruits, vegetables and other offering in kind instead of a money. In spite of the shortage of many things I feel okay in this new mission because of the people’s care and living faith. Maybe our very lack of material things will be the reasons the Holy Spirit will use for bringing grace and life to us and to our people.