Brazil – An oratory against drugs: Salesian presence in Cruzeiro do Sul is taking shape

08 July 2021

(ANS - Cruzeiro do Sul) - In Cruzeiro do Sul, a town of 100,000 inhabitants in the Brazilian state of Acre, in Amazonian territory, a new Salesian missionary presence is about to arise. Engaged in this work is Fr Roberto Cappelletti, a 50-year-old Salesian missionary.

He lived for six years in two missions on the Alto Rio Negro River, taking care of the natives who lived in small villages in the forest. He was then transferred to the Amazonian state of Rondônia, in Porto Velho, a city of 500,000 inhabitants, where he is responsible for a parish, the oratory and the activities for children and young people. From here, every month, he travels 1,200 kilometers of bumpy roads to go to Cruzeiro do Sul and prepare the new mission wanted by the local bishop, the Salesian Msgr. Flavio Giovenale:

“The tragedy of this town on the border with Peru is the massive drug trafficking: when children drop out of school or finish school and cannot find work, they are often enlisted by traffickers to sell,” says Fr Cappelletti. “In the Amazon area there are solid and united families, attentive to the education of their children, but many families are fragile. The often neglected children try to make easy money on drugs. Poverty is widespread: agriculture and livestock, the main activities, are in the hands of a few, very wealthy landowners, who unfortunately reserve humiliating salaries for their workers.”

Mgr. Giovenale entrusted the Salesians with the youth ministry of the entire city of Cruzeiro do Sul and the care of the inmates of the local juvenile prison. Fr Cappelletti's goal is to open an oratory and start vocational courses – as bakers, cooks, beauticians, courses for the installation and maintenance of electrical systems - so that young people can find a job or open a small business.

The oratory will be built in the area of ​​the former major seminary, where there is already a football field and an indoor field for basketball and volleyball. In recent weeks, the premises that will accommodate the Salesian community and the various activities of the oratory are being restructured. In another area of ​​the city, the local Caritas has made available a warehouse, also undergoing renovation, which will house the classrooms. The works will finish within a few months and already in December it will be possible to start registering enrollment.

“From January of next year I should be living permanently in Cruzeiro do Sul. I hope that the Salesian Province of Manaus, to which I belong, and the Congregation will send at least two confreres: in this way we'll be able to establish a small community,” he adds.

“I dream that the oratory we're building can also become itinerant: I'd like many activities to take place even in the poorest and most peripheral neighborhoods. The children and young people of this town, which the Lord looks upon with boundless love, need to be accompanied, guided, supported, they need someone to help them build a good life. I shall work pursuing this goal together with all those who want to lend a hand: the alliance of adults for the good of young people is crucial.”


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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