A Missionary in Brazil Says Thank You for His New Boat
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, the founder of ACN. Now he is working as a missionary in the Amazon region of Brazil.
Since January 2012, Father Peter has been working in the Parish of Barcelos. This parish covers a vast area, though much of it is uninhabited. Most of its 25,000 inhabitants live in the town of Barcelos itself, but there are also 45 village settlements of varying sizes on the Rio Negro and its 10 tributaries, most of them difficult to get to and some requiring 3 to 4 days boat journey to reach them.
Almost all of the people living in the settlements are nominally Catholics, but the sects are very active in this area, trying to woo away the faithful. Hence it is important for a priest to be able to visit regularly, including even the most distant settlements. It is for this reason that our generous benefactors have helped Father Shekleton with $54,000 for the purchase of a river boat.
He wrote 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.
"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."
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