Visit to Ingeniero Jacobacci, Rio Negro (Patagonia, Argentina)

After the encounters and celebrations in Chile (meeting with the Major Superiors, Congress of Claretian Spirituality and 150th anniversary of the arrival in America), I visited the CMF community in Patagonia, Argentina, to have a taste of its volunteering program.

On the 27th of January 2020, I met the local Bishop, Mons. Juan José Chaparro CMF, in Bariloche city. Besides the cathedral and other touristic spots nearby, I went around to briefly see the lakes, the hills and other awesome treasures of our mother nature. On that evening, Bro. Marcos Niclis CMF (superior of the community) and myself took the bus and traveled to Ingeniero Jacobacci. The landscape changed as we moved from the city as well as the roads. We arrived there safely that late night and were welcomed by Fr. Mário Bússulo CMF. The third member of the community (Fr. Pedro Rojas CMF, the local parish priest) was in one outstation accompanying a group of 20 university students from Bahia Blanca (Argentina) who came to evangelize there.

On the next days until February 1st, I could experience the missionary daily life in Ingeniero Jacobacci, a periphery that has around 25000 habitants spread in a territory of 33000 Km2 made up of 2 towns (besides Jacobacci, there is Maquinchao) and its 22 rural communities (called locally “parajes”). The Mapuche people is predominant.

As I start visiting families, pastoral, social and cultural institutions, craft markets of Mapuche loom, listening parishioners and other committed citizens in their poor neighborhoods, I came to notice their joys, struggles, hopes, and uncertainties. So often, they spontaneously shared their deep gratitude for the Claretian presence journeying, accompanying, supporting, empowering them and advocating for their land, as well as for water, gas, electricity, house, education and more job opportunities (rather than just the mining business). I also appreciated the opportunity to gather with the coordinator of Solidarity and Mission of MICLA, with the provincial coordinator of JPIC, with some local leaders and to participate in a broadcast program at the National Radio.

In such tough periphery there is a need of constant dialogue, respect, joint minds, hearts and hands to allow the best community wisdom and shared mission from all partners in order to keep building a sustainable and ecological long-term strategy that will endure while facing the main challenges, obstacles and threats without neglecting our DNA.

The Claretians and its people in Ingeniero Jacobacci are not alone. Let us stay genuinely committed on the ground and remain effectively interconnected in solidarity. Hope this sacred place in Patagonia can be presented to more graduate students and young professionals for a transformative experience in their lives.

Artur Teixeira, CMF

"¡Somos misioneros! La Misión pertenece a nuestra identidad más profunda". | "We are missionaries! The Mission belongs to the core of our most fundamental identity".

MS 1 (Cf. CC 2; Dir 26.)