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Project of the Week: Mass Offerings and Support sent to the Brazilian Amazon

Mass Offerings for priests and support for religious Sisters in the Amazonian diocese of Humaitá, Brazil 

Deacon with youth wearing tradition head gear in one of the river communities of Humaità

The diocese of Humaità is situated in northwest Brazil, in the state of Amazonas. It covers a vast area of over 136,000 km² (larger than Greece), but sparsely populated with only 135,000 inhabitants. Around 55,000 of these people are concentrated in the city of Humaità itself, while the rest for the most part live in small settlements bordering the rivers and lakes of the Amazon region.  

On the one hand, there are many people who are migrating to the cities and towns, where above all the suburban townships are swollen with an influx of people from rural areas, and people from other Latin American countries, such as Haiti and Venezuela. This presents huge challenges for the pastoral mission of the Church, and numerous social problems. At the same time, many Catholics are still left behind in the small jungle settlements of the riverbanks and lake shores. They are widely known as “Ribeirinhos,” or “shore dwellers.”  

 Pastoral visit of a deacon during the COVID-19 pandemic

These Ribeirinhos continue to live their traditional lifestyle, which is becoming more and more difficult. For contact with the modern world is causing them to lose their sense of their cultural identity, while they are also confronted with other problems, such as the logging of the rainforest and land grabs by large landowners—add to this the pandemic. 

Not only have many people in the Amazon region fallen sick and even died, but the situation has also brought still greater poverty to the region. As tourism has been drying up, they have no one to sell their produce to—for example their traditional handmade art—and now have consequently lost a major source of income. Their already precarious situation has been still further undermined by the pandemic.  

The Church has also found itself affected by an increasing poverty. Not only are there more people needing assistance with their material and spiritual needs, but a major source of income in the form of the Sunday collection has also, evidently, dried up.  

The priests, religious and deacons working in the diocese urgently need our help. Their bishop has appealed to us. “This request is an urgent cry for help,” he writes, “since our current income is not enough to support the priests, religious and deacons working in the diocese.” 

Sisters and deacons with youth during a pastoral visit

Therefore we are proposing to step in, with a contribution of $17,190 for the 17 religious Sisters and the two permanent deacons working in the diocese and with Mass Offerings for the four priests, and the bishop himself, to a value of $12,413. This help will benefit not only the recipients, but will be an important contribution to helping them to support the people whom they have been sent to serve, especially at this critical time.  

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