The Apostolic Vicariate of Chaco Paraguayo is a large and complex region situated in western Paraguay. There are 11 different indigenous ethnic groups living within the vicariate, each speaking its own language. The region covers an area of some 37,000 square miles – about the size of South Carolina – and is only sparsely populated. The 30,000 or so inhabitants of the vicariate are thinly scattered and live mainly from whatever the saline and often boggy soil will produce.
Often young people in the region see little future for themselves. Many fail to complete their schooling, instead immigrating to other parts of the country in search of work; others get caught up in urban street gangs. There is a widespread breakdown of traditional family structures, and many parents seem incapable of giving guidance and direction to their children.
The Church has a great deal of work to do here, but she also faces major challenges. The roads are poor, and many are impassable in the rainy season, so that many of the villages are all but cut off at times. Floods are also a frequent occurrence. Meanwhile, there are just six priests ministering to the Catholic faithful of the vicariate.
Given the general situation and the limited number of priests, the service given by the religious Sisters is of vital importance. There are twelve Sisters of the Congregation of the Hijas de Maria Auxiliadora working in the diocese, with three in each of four mission stations; it is also from there that they minister to the outlying communities. Braving all weather, they go out to visit the people in the remote and inaccessible villages, care for children, young people, and other women, give religious instruction, visit families and the sick, provide medical care for those in need, and teach young people to read and write.
Sister Blanca writes to us, “We are trying to nurture the seed of the Kingdom of God in this mission field.” Without the commitment and hard work of the Sisters, many people in the outlying communities would have no one to care for them.
The Vicariate of Chaco Paraguayo is itself very poor and can scarcely support the Sisters, so they have turned to us for help. We are proposing to give them $5,100 – $420 per Sister – to support them in their life and apostolate.
Will you give to support these religious Sisters helping to care for the faithful and the poor in Paraguay? We are sure they will remember you in their grateful prayers.
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