Chile: Back to the Mapuche

From their arrival in Chile in 1593 until their expulsion in 1767, Jesuits ministered among the indigenous Mapuche people and defended them from abuses by the Spanish colonisers. The early Jesuits completely rejected the use of violence in the process of evangelisation, which they believed had to go along with justice. There are now nearly a million Mapuches in Chile, some still living a traditional agricultural way of life, but many migrating to large urban centres. For the first time since the restoration of the Society, the Chilean Jesuits have returned to work among them. In the south, a new Jesuit team lives in a Mapuche Community of Tirúa and helps with pastoral care for the Mapuche communities in the large parish of Cañete, promoting the training of indigenous pastoral agents and human development projects like literacy training and improving the water supply. Forming young leaders is a first step in helping the youth who seem most vulnerable to the disintegrating effects of the dominant culture. ?Music forms an integral part of the people?s experience of God, preserving traces of their own cultural identity that allow interaction with the Gospel,? says team leader Pablo Castro SJ. The team plans to encourage liturgical music played on indigenous instruments and to develop a Eucharist celebrated in the language and style of the Mapuches. [HL10402]