Catholic Mission: Bringing priests to the Amazon
|Peruvian seminarian Juan Perez and Australian priest Fr John Andersen.|
Juan Perez, a young seminarian in Peru’s Amazon Basin has more than a passing connection to Australian Catholics. As one of the seminarians at Saint Augustine’s Seminary in Iquitos, Juan and his classmates are recipients of financial support provided through Catholic Mission in Australia.
“As a missionary territory where the outreach is to people living in poor isolated rural communities on the Amazon’s tributaries, Iquitos is where Catholic Mission supporters are assisting to grow the faith through the training of priests and catechists,” Catholic Mission’s National Director, Martin Teulan said.
Mr Teulan said Catholic Mission supports the Vicariate of Iquitos through its works with communities, Church leaders and children.
“Our projects are diverse and faith-driven,” Mr Teulan said.
“Besides training priests and catechists, we are also building chapels in riverside villages, maintaining orphanages and resourcing the faith formation of young adults.”
For Juan Perez, the Australian connection is more personal as for the last 20 years his parish priest has been Sydney-born missionary, Father John Andersen.
It was Fr John who welcomed Juan into the family of Christ when his own family brought him to the baptismal font.
“I was rather new to the parish of Santa Rosa when the Perez family brought this little baby boy into the church to be baptised,” Fr John recalls.
Later Fr John got to know Juan as an altar server.
“Each Saturday evening he would be part of a group of young people who’d meet in the church to pray and reflect on the reading for Sunday Mass,” Fr John said.
“I remember as a young boy hearing some very profound reflections on the scriptures come from his mouth.”
When Fr John baptised young Juan 18 years ago, only God knew that it was the start of Juan’s journey to priesthood. Following in the footsteps of his mentor and role model, Juan told Fr John that he was considering a vocation for the priesthood.
After two years of discernment, aged 16, Juan entered St Augustine’s seminary.
“With only 24 priests in the vast Iquitos Vicariate, there’s a great need for more good men like Juan,” Martin Teulan said.
“The people who live on the rivers may see a priest only a few times a year, and they need spiritual and pastoral sustenance.
“We thank all of our supporters in joining us in this cause and making the mission of bringing God’s kingdom on earth possible in Iquitos.”
For more information or to make a donation, visit the Catholic Mission website www.catholicmission.org.au
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