News & Events

MOP goes to South America

Posted in News

Missionaries of the Poor is planning to open its first mission on the Latin American continent in 2023. This decision follows upon a visit made last summer to Paraguay and Argentina in South America by MOP Pontifical Commissary Archbishop Joseph Harris, Br. Alex Castaneda MOP, and Br. Ajit Xalxo MOP.

Archbishop Harris is himself a veteran missionary who spent several years in Paraguay as a young priest of the Holy Ghost Fathers ministering to the people of that South American country. Having such a wealth of experience and knowledge of the Paraguayan culture and its people, especially the poor who populate the huge bañados (slums) of Asunción, he felt that the MOP charism and apostolate would find a good fit in Paraguay. 

The archbishop and the Brothers spent five weeks visiting potential sites all over the country, especially in Asunción, the capital city. There, they had meetings with Asunción archbishop Msgr. Adalberto Martinez Flores, and numerous priests, religious and laity, many of whom were old friends of the Commissary. They were very welcoming and excited that MOP was considering opening a mission in their country, pledging unstinting support for MOP if ever we decided to establish a mission there.

The Brothers were particularly interested in a sprawling bañado called Chacarita, where thousands of poor Paraguayans eke out a living along the banks of a river that occasionally overflows its banks, flooding out these hapless people mired in poverty and destitution. The Brothers met the parish priests who heroically work among these slum dwellers. They joyfully welcomed the Brothers and encouraged them in their proposal to join them in this most challenging ministry. 

The Brothers also visited a leper colony in the lush Paraguayan countryside. Run by a group of Franciscan Sisters, it is modelled like a small village comprising 12 units each housing 8 members. The Sisters lead this community of persons afflicted with leprosy, and they too welcomed the possibility of MOP working along with them in building Christian community among the lepers.

The Brothers were informed that the Paraguayan government has a system of competent social workers who assist the Church in its ministries to the poor and marginalized and would be willing to work with the Brothers in whatever apostolates they decided to take up.

Archbishop Harris and the Brothers also visited a radio station and appeared for interviews on a local Catholic Television programme where they shared about our MOP charism and our ministries to the poor in various parts of the world.

One of the highlights of the Brothers South American sojourn was a visit to a famous Catholic shrine in Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina, where they witnessed the miracle of the holy eucharist that transforms into human flesh!

In the new year, the Commissary is planning a pilgrimage of MOP associates and friends to accompany him and the pioneer group of Brothers that will begin the mission in Paraguay during the Easter season April/May 2023. Those interested in more details can contact Br. Roche Tulalian MOP, Secretary General, at 1-876-806-1176.