During the past eight years the apple of Fr. Paudie Moloughney’s Brazilian eye has been the planning and development of the Reserva Ecologica Sao Patricio.
This is an area of about ten acres in his parish of Juruena in the north-west of Brazil and not too distant from the Bolivian border.
Many of his parishioners have come from the southern states and are descendants of Italian, German and Polish families who emigrated from Europe in the 1850-1920 period.
Early development of this vast hinterland meant the cutting down of native forests to meet the demands for hardwood in the large cities and for the export market. The cut-away forest is now used for cattle ranching and the cultivation of soya-bean. With the recent growth of small towns and a minimal road structure St Patricks Missionary Society took over three areas in 1998. Fr. Paudie who is a native of Laharden, Littleton and has been in Brazil since 1971 arrived there in 2004. He previously worked in Sao Paulo and in Recife with an intermediary period spent in Lagos Nigeria. He has also walked the Appalachian Trail in the USA and walked from St James Church, Two-Mile–Borris via Dublin, England and France to complete the Camino-Santiago trail in Spain.
Most missionaries know that their time in any area is limited and that when they move on they need to have put in place an educated and well prepared laity to meet the religious and social-justice needs of their local communities. With this in mind the St. Patricks Ecology Reserve is an education centre for catechists and the other ministries such as liturgy, health, family, children, youth and justice. One of the strengths of the Brazilian church is that the interaction of these ministries provides a rich social life for the many who take part. Formation days, family and youth movements, parish assemblies as well as the many festivals now make the centre a vital part of parish life.
A recent letter from Fr. Paudie fills out the picture- “It’s been a long rainy season since my return in September. The rains came early heavy. Again we planted lots of trees before Christmas. With continuous rain till early April, those and young plants are well rooted to withstand the dry season. We have planted in March and April. The secret is water, twice a day and you can plant in any time of the year. Our centre now in its seventh year is beautiful with thousands of new trees flowers and fruit trees. We have our own vegetable garden with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, cabbage and parsley. Those working with the promotion of health have planted a garden of medicinal herbs.
St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated in style - the children were painted in green and dressed in all kinds of rig-out. We served lunch for over 120 people with as many children. Two sheep, 20 kilos of beef and 15 kilos of stuffed pork and puddings were barbecued. Homemade bread, cakes and salads were sourced from local gardens as well as natural fruit drinks with a few boxes of beer amid glorious sunshine added to the festive atmosphere. The children when not playing football spent most of their time swimming in a small stream that flows through the area. Medals with the image of the patron St. Patrick were presented to them all.
Next year Kilteegan will be celebrating 50 years in Brasil and there will be celebrations in all the parishes where we have worked. However this may be my last few months here in Juruena. We recently met with our local bishop Dom Neri to plan the handing back of the parishes as Kilteegan no longer has replacements. I am aware that Juruena is a place for younger men and it will take a few more months to sort things out. Most of all I will miss the work at the Reserva Ecologica. How I wish you could see it.
Some of the other parishes are about 200 miles from here and with the roads in a terrible condition at this time of year travel is difficult. We are in the process of training 20 Eucharistic Ministers, 10 for the rural areas and 10 for the town. On Pentecost Sunday we will have the official empowering of these wonderful workers. They will visit the sick at home and in hospital; conduct burial services and lead the worship in outlying chapels and communities. The catechists take part in a formation day once a month, one of whom is doing a two year post graduate degree in catechesis.”
Fr. Paudie will be with us for the Summer and we understand that a few parishioners will be returning with him in September. They will have the privilege of seeing at first hand the paradise lost but now regained and replanted as a sign of sustainable agriculture/horticulture and where the local church is sowing the seeds of a thriving future.