Two articles on the companion diocese of the Diocese of Huron
1. Huron visitors to Amazonia find friendly people everywhere
By Jane Buttery
On Oct. 21 at Christ Church, Colchester, we discovered more about our new companion diocese, which Rev. Victoria Mouck visited with two friends from Essex Deanery in August.
Amazonia is a huge area in northwestern Brazil with 2.25 million people. One man, Bishop Saulo de Barros, administers the diocese from Belem, in the state of Para, with the help of six unpaid priests who do secular jobs during the week.
The priests serve at different churches by taking at least two or three services each Sunday. Their mission is “to proclaim and live the love of the gospels, leading people into an intimate relationship with God and with others through the care of the needy.”
Victoria robed and helped with services with Rev. Marcous and Rev. Sergio. She said it was an honour but very warm. Humidity is often 90 per cent during the day. It was a pleasure to have a boat ride during which they felt a breeze; they also saw a wonderful sunset over the Amazon River.
Because the climate is tropical, houses are built differently. They are on stilts as the Amazon is tidal and rains can be heavy. Most have three walls and a fourth open to the air. We saw photos of people who kept cool with tiled floors and windowless walls.
People were very friendly everywhere. The Canadians were kept busy visiting different churches and homes. They met a 96-year-old teacher who lived alone with help.
The Interfaith Council was celebrating its 10th anniversary. It is self-supporting, selling what they make. They take care of the needy, and people willingly help others. This is so necessary as logging has devastated certain areas.
One visit that started at dawn meant a seven-hour drive to Ulianopolis, where logging and burning had ruined vegetation.
Inside the government school grounds, staff have set up gardens to preserve indigenous plants, such as achaia, and to involve children and feed them.
In the school, Victoria found the children delightful, enjoying hugs.
Canadians did pastoral visits and were entertained one night by dancers, who told the story of the green man who is not touched because no one knows where he’ll go.
There was so much to do every day that the visitors were glad to return to air-conditioned rooms at the cathedral. There, they also shared the simple meals and joined in the grace that was sung at the end of a meal. It was all so joyful. The bishop’s wife Ruth helped with the cooking in the small kitchen, from which a potluck meal is provided every Saturday at the cathedral.
After their last meal there, the Canadians were entertained by wonderful rhythmic dancing performed by men and women.
Victoria had a birthday there and was overwhelmed by the generosity of new friends who gave her lovely mementos of her visit. We all enjoyed seeing these interesting items.
Jane Buttery is a lay reader at the Parish of Southern Trinity.
2. Amazonia ministers face many social issues
The women of Lambton Deanery and two guests from Delaware Deanery, gathered at St. James’ Parish in Parkhill for their fall meeting on Oct. 8, learned about Huron’s new companion diocese, the Diocese of Amazonia.
Rev. Karen Nelles presided over the eucharist and spoke to the group about how in our more affluent dioceses the numbers in our churches are declining, while in places such as the 10-year-old Diocese of Amazonia, the numbers are growing.
Karen noted sometimes we have so much that we forget to give thanks every day as we should, not just at Thanksgiving. She reminded us it is important to share our God-given resources.
Rev. Hilton Gomes, Joy Hogarth, Deacon Victoria Mouck, and Gerard Philips gave an educational and informative slide presentation highlighting their recent visit to Amazonia.
They explained the many issues (social, inequality, domestic violence, racism to name a few), faced by Bishop Saulo de Barros and his team in their ministry.
True to form, a wonderful potluck lunch was enjoyed by all.