Fr Jefferson Santos, SDB, Provincial of Manaus (BMA) challenged the participants in his welcome address saying: “This is a privileged opportunity for us to look at our identity and mission in the geopolitical situation of this vast territory in which we work to once again collaborate with the universal Church.”
The speakers were (1) Fr Justino Sarmento Rezende, SDB, a native Tuyuka, member of the preparatory commission for Pan-Amazonia, who presented the preparatory document of the Synod and the Salesian vision of the synod; (2) Fr Juan Botasso, SDB, shared information on the Salesian Missions in South America; (3) Jose Juncosa shared the socio-political, cultural and religious situation of the Amazon; (4) Fr Diego Clavijo, SDB shared his experience working with the Achuar and Shuar people; and (5) Bro João Gutenberg, FMS, from the “Rede Ecclesial Pan-Amazonica” (REPAM), presented Laudato Si' and the vision of the young people of the Amazon.
Msgr José Angel Davisson, SDB, Emeritus Apostolic Vicar of Puerto Ayacucho, Venezuela, member of the preparatory commission for the Synod was also present, along with the General Councilors for the Mission Sector, Fr Guillermo Basañes, SDB and Sr Alaide Diretti, FMA. The permanent deacons from the Shuar-Achuar tribe shared their ministerial journey.
“We would like to be in harmony with the Church, preparing for the Synod of Pan-Amazonia,” said Fr Martin Lasarte, SDB, Missions Sector. The encounter is principally for the missionary presences of Pan-Amazonica: the provinces of Brazil - Manaus in the state of Amazonas (BMA and 2 FMA Provinces), Brazil – Campo Grande (BCG and 2 FMA Provinces) in the state of Mato Grosso, Columbia, Ecuador (ECU), Paraguay (PAR), Peru (PER) and Venezuela (VEN).
During the small group meetings, provinces presented to the assembly a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, and Strength) Analysis of their context to help the participants. The last day, the assembly was divided into respective provinces and regions in order to propose lines of action for their respective missionary activities and for the synod proper.
“One of the aims of the Synod is to fulfill a Church with an Amazonian face and an indigenous face. This depends on what we have in our hearts, so it is necessary that the Salesians, but also all the missionaries who work in the Amazon, are friends of the Amazonian peoples," said Fr Sarmento Rezende.
"The Salesians can contribute to the Synod starting from their specificity," ackowledged Msgr. Divasson. "Today there are various problems in the region, such as the globalized culture that is prevailing in the big cities and also influences the indigenous world, influences the vision, the mentality, the thought of the natives ... And it is precisely Don Bosco's style that can be a real help in responding to these new youth situations."
The meeting concluded with a message from the participants in the two Congregations:
"We thank God for the fruitful 125 years of Salesian presence in the Amazon territory. An immense good has been created, recognized by the people of Amazonia and by civil society.
We observe that, on the one hand, the mission has grown with new challenges, and on the other the forces of the missionary personnel in those territories have diminished
We desire and ask that our mission, in this place so significant today for the Church and for humanity, does not decline, but reinvigorates.
The Amazonian populations, and especially the young, await us in their communities, rich in traditions and values, so that the Don Bosco Sons and Daughters continue to announce the Good News and accompany them in their challenges.
The young people of the Amazon also await us in the big cities, where many young natives emigrate, joining another multitude of young people, vulnerable in their dignity, in their identity and in their journey of faith.
We are convinced that a generous Amazonian missionary spirit will be a source of renewal for our Salesian life.
May Mary Help of Christians, Blessed Sr. Maria Troncatti, Fr Rudolf Lunkenbein and Simão Bororo, intercede so that the Salesian mission, with its Amazonian face, will become ever more alive and fruitful."