Zambia – A new temple during the pandemic: Fr Javier Barrientos

19 June 2020

(ANS - Mansa) - In recent years the situation in Zambia has become critical. It is one of the world's poorest countries with almost 86% of its 10.3 million inhabitants living below the poverty line. Children and young people face challenges such as malnutrition, incarceration, educational disadvantage, child marriages, labor exploitation. Fr Javier Barrientos, SDB, works to meet both the material and spiritual needs of the people entrusted to him. In this time of pandemic, the faithful have built a church.

In which area of ​​Zambia are you working today as a missionary?

My pastoral work takes place in the Salesian parish of Santiago, which has 16 mission stations. The newest is located in the province of Luapula, directly in Mansa, in the Mutiti area. We started meeting with people last Sunday. It is a mission station with 700 people living there. They have been quarantined, but they must live and survive in the midst of poverty. In Zambia, confinement has been removed because people need to work and live. In rural areas, there are no cases.

What do the Salesians do?

In my community, we are three Salesians. We work in schools, in a youth center, in the oratory and carry out missions in 16 mission stations. The missionary work is vast and we try to have at least one parish in each mission station, but to date, we have built about seven churches and we are alongside the poor and among the people.

The parish has mission stations. What do they consist of?

The Catholic Church is very popular with people, but we live alongside Evangelicals and Protestants. People have a great tolerance for religious groups. It is interesting that in the construction of the church we have been helped by other religious groups.

What are people's needs?

They need to organize themselves better in order to foster development. They are farmers and unfortunately, they are left in poverty because they cannot sell their products. Many of them survive with what they produce, but they are a truly very good and happy people.

And what is the mission of the Salesians?

In the diocese, there are the Missionaries of Africa - the so-called 'White Fathers' - the Franciscans and the Salesians. Our contribution is mostly to the young and therefore school is fundamental. In the villages, there are young people who want to grow and we support them in growth, we help them.

Tell us about the church you built.

We Salesians have been in Zambia since 1982. People are happy to have a new temple in Villa Mutiti and have helped us build it, because they see that it is necessary to have moments of meeting with God, which we used to do outdoors. Construction work was done during the pandemic, as Coronavirus has not arrived in this area, but there are other diseases that kill thousands of people.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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