One hundred and twenty-four delegates from across Guyana were joined by members of the St Ignatius, Lethem Region 9 parish community and nearby villages for the Pre-Synodal Assembly for Guyana, November 27.
The gathering is the most significant step of Guyana’s preparation for its participation in the Synod of Bishops in Rome, October 2019. The purpose of that encounter will be to discuss the work of the Catholic Church in the Amazon region.
Last month’s celebration themed New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology began with the blessing of the newly constructed benab (a native hut or shelter) in the Macushi language by an elder of the community in the presence of Cardinal Pedro Barreto SJ, and Papal Nuncio Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu along with Bishops of the Guianas, and priests.
Also present were members of Red Ecclesial Pan-Amazonica (REPAM)—a transnational Catholic network formed by the Latin American Bishops Conference to focus on and explore the common social, environmental and spiritual challenges facing Amazonian peoples.
After the blessing, parishioners and well-wishers processed with singing to the church for the Mass. Catholic Standard reported that hymns were sung in Macushi, Wapichan and English with “great gusto and joy”.
Chief celebrant Cardinal Barreto said in his homily (which was translated from Spanish to English by Regional Superior Fr Christopher Llanos SJ) emphasised that the Pope wants to listen to each indigenous person and community.
“He wants to hear about and celebrate your rich faith and spiritual connection to the earth.” Cardinal Barreto further imparted three words to the congregants: The Word of God, joy, and hope.
“Your grandparents and your ancestors,” he said, “have planted the seeds of the Catholic faith in this location and it brings great joy to me to see young boys and girls here in this church. The Word of God has been growing like a seed in each of you, and the joys are the trees and the forest; your rich faith and culture. Your hope, which is a joyful one, is that Jesus comes to and is among us,” he said.