August 29, 2012
At the request of Bishop Gaetano Galbusera, bishop of Ucayali, Marj Crossman rsj and Dora Garcia rsj sadly left the parish of Tournavista where we, the Sisters of St. Joseph, have been for just two years, to take up ministry in the parish of Curimana.
|Marj Crossman rsj and Dora Garcia rsj
with some of the parishioners
from Curimana, Peru
On 22nd of April the bishop celebrated Mass in St. Rosa church and presented us to the community. During the week we attend to the needs of the parish and on Sunday at 6.00pm, because of the heat, Fr Bernardino comes from Neshuya to celebrate Mass. Neshuya is an hour away by dirt road.
Curimana on the Aguaytia River is just two hours from Pucallpa. When wet, it is a longer trip. Pucallpa is just an hour's flight from Lima or by road in the dry season, about 22 hours. Curimana is the capital of the Irazola region and by selva standards is a reasonably large town with a population of eight thousand, some of whom live in villages up and down the river. The zone has several companies exploring for natural gas. The main source of income is agriculture.
Much of the area until recently grew the coca plant from which cocaine is produced but now many of those areas are plantations of the cacao tree from whose fruit chocolate is produced. This year the government of Switzerland has a contract with Curimana for 350,000 tons of cacao. Other products of the region are bananas, pawpaw, yuca, some sugar cane, coffee and palm oil used for cooking. There is also quite a large business in illegal cutting of timber unfortunately.
Since our arrival in June, we have visited both the primary and secondary schools. We have tried to organize catechetical programmes but unfortunately with the teachers on strike almost since our arrival, it has been difficult.
For the feast of St. John the Baptist patron of all the Peruvian selva, we were invited by the principal of the primary school to their celebration with the children presenting traditional regional dances and foods. We indeed did sample some of the dishes - delicious.
We have had some of the lay leaders from outlying villages come to visit, laden with produce yucca, bananas, selva beans, fresh cheese from their farms to share with us. Very generous of them. They are delightful people.
Some days we have had primary school children here in our kitchen helping them with their homework and then having some fun with jigsaws that we have.
Because most of the people are out most days working their land, it has been difficult to get much going as yet although enthusiasm is not lacking. We hope to get into visiting more families too. So you can see we are slowly settling into our new home, getting to know the people, although climate change, erratic for this time of the year, has sent us out to buy Blankets.