Paraguay faces many major challenges. The gulf between rich and poor is growing ever greater, and many people, above all in the rural regions, can see little future for themselves and are migrating to the major cities, where more often than not the hoped-for improvement in their living conditions turns out to be little more than a dream. Not infrequently in fact, the country people are even evicted from their land by large landowners wanting to extend their holdings. The Catholic Church is for many people the only credible institution in a country racked with all kinds of economic and political problems.
Traditionally, the Catholic faith is deeply rooted among the majority of the people, with over 90% of its 5 million or so inhabitants professing the Catholic faith and – in contrast to its larger neighbour Brazil and a number of other Latin American countries – they are much less inclined to be drawn away by the sects. The Church in the country is poor, however, and goodwill on its own is not enough. Resources are needed in order to be able to pursue the pastoral and evangelising mission of the Church, and as a result the Church is very much dependent on outside support.
The Franciscans have been present in Paraguay for 67 years now. Today they number 47 brothers, of whom 20 are priests. They are working in eight parishes and four schools and also run four centres for street children in which they care for around 500 young boys and girls who are otherwise homeless or abandoned by their parents.
The Franciscan provincial, Father Miguel Angel Cáceres has written to ACN. „We rejoice in our pastoral work, which the good God has always abundantly blessed“, he writes. „We want to continue this work, but the harvest is great and the workers are few.“ He is particularly grateful for the Mass stipends our generous benefactors have provided, to a total value of 8040 Euros, by means of which we have been able to help the work of his 20 Franciscan priests in Paraguay. These Mass stipends are not only for the benefit of the priests themselves, but are also used to support the training of the upcoming younger vocations. We pass on to you his heartfelt thanks to everyone who has contributed!