“How beautiful are the feet of the Dominican Family in the Amazon!”

How beautiful are the feet of those who proclaim the Good News…!

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who proclaims peace, who proclaims the Good News, who proclaims justice…!” These are the words of the prophet Isaiah that we read and listen to on the solemnity of Our Father St. Dominic, whom we believe embodies this message, by his preaching So many Dominican missionaries have been inspired and motivated by him to proclaim the Good News in many parts of the world, and in a special way in our Peruvian Amazon, specifically in the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Maldonado.

The missionary presence of the Order in the Amazon had its origins in the year 1900 when the area became the Apostolic Prefecture of Santo Domingo del Urubamba. At that time, it was given by the Church to the Order, under the responsibility of Father Ramón Zubieta. In 1906, the Church handed over this work to the Dominicans of the Dominican Province of Spain. The name of these missions has changed several times since then, the current one being the “Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Maldonado.” 

Circumstances in the Church and in the Order have made it necessary for the different entities of the Dominican Family to join forces in order to carry out this noble task. Restructuring in the Order has led some provinces to merge, especially in Spain, resulting in the new province with the name “Province of Hispania”. Today, the Dominican Province of St. John the Baptist of Peru welcomes the missionaries of the Vicariate of Santa Rosa of the Province of Spain, now Province of Hispania, and assumes, with the support of this Province, the missionary presence in the Amazon, together with the Bishop of the Vicariate and the Dominican Missionary Sisters of the Rosary, whose history began in these places.

Since 2018, the Province has continued the presence of friars in the Amazon Mission areas, with friars who are sons of the Province of Hispania. So far we have had two friars assigned to the San Jacinto mission in Puerto Maldonado; two in the Mission of Shintuya; three in the Mission of Sepahua, two of whom reside in the Mission of Kirigueti, (from which they also attend the mission of Timpía); three friars in Koribeni and five in the convent of Quillabamba.

The financial support for this presence has been provided by the Province of Hispania with its Amazonian Forest project. This is a 10-year agreement, which is due to expire in 2027, although we have been promised that they will continue to help to a lesser degree. Most of the friars assigned to this task are over 70 years of age and some suffer from illnesses that limit their ability to visit native communities in each mission centre.

Our Province looks with hope to this missionary challenge, because of the steps being taken by the Master of the Order and the General Curia. We are conscious, however, that we urgently need the support of personnel to strengthen the presence of missionary men and women in these centres of evangelization who are engaged in education, able to visit and accompany the native communities (both spiritually and socially), be present in the boarding schools, etc. In addition, once the 10-year agreement with the Province of Hispania for financial support expires, the Order will need to take on an important role in meeting this need as well.

Having celebrated the “Encuentro Misiones Amazónicas” this year in Puerto Maldonado with the goal of involving the whole Order in this apostolic work, and having experienced the desire of the participants to join in this task, we entrust ourselves to Our Father St. Dominic, tireless missionary preacher, who is also patron of the Vicariate. We continue to listen to those words inspired by the voice of the prophet: How beautiful upon the Amazon are the feet of the missionaries, consecrated and lay, coming from all parts of the Order, who proclaim peace, who announce the Good News, who proclaim justice in these lands, who say to every people: “The Lord is our King,” the Lord is with us and has not forgotten us.

Bro Romulo Vásquez Gavidia, OP
Prior Provincial
Dominican Province of St. John the Baptist of Peru

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