Coordinación Nacional de Pastoral Indígena - CONAPI

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Official name Coordinación Nacional de Pastoral Indígena (National Coordination of Indigenous pastoral, CONAPI)
Country / Continent Paraguay / South America
Director of the institute Alberdi 782 C/Humaitá

[in Asunción, Paraguay; Calle Alberdi 782, Corner Calle Humaitá]

Legal holder of the institute Sr. Raquel Peralta.
Sponsor of the institute Misereor - Adveniat.
Year of foundation 1972
Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers) 33
Staff members of your institute 1 Bishop, 1 priest, 1 nun, 8 lay people ,20 volunteers (priests, religious and lay people)
Contact Alberdi 782

Assuncíon

Paraguay

conapi@conexion.com.py


Contents

Particulars of your pastoral institute

Official name

Coordinación Nacional de Pastoral Indígena (National Coordination of Indigenous pastoral, CONAPI)

Director of the institute

Alberdi 782 C/Humaitá

[in Asunción, Paraguay; Calle Alberdi 782, Corner Calle Humaitá]

Legal holder of the institute

Sr. Raquel Peralta.

Misereor - Adveniat.

Vision / mission statement

To accompany the indigenous peoples and provide advice in the process of self-government and protection of their rights. To impact on the public policies so that they contribute to the respect for economic, social and cultural rights of indigenous peoples. To create rooms of theological reflection in accordance with the peculiarities and spiritual riches of the indigenous peoples.

Main areas of work

  1. Task of monitoring and advisory support in the process of self-government and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples.
  2. Influence on public policies so that they contribute to respect for economic, social and cultural rights of indigenous peoples.
  3. To get direct contact with them through meetings, consultations, workshops, seminars, visits in the community, authorities in thecompetent authorities, lobbying, drafting of documents and many more.
  4. Continuous training and education of indigenous and non-indigenouspastoral workers.

Addressees of your work (course participants[1])

The indigenous peoples of all regions of the country.

Year of foundation

1972.

Organisational structure of the institute

  • Coordinator
  • Councilor, Coordinator
  • Areas of:
  1. country/territory s(a coordinator, counselor)
  2. public policies in the field of health, education and environment
  3. theological education
  4. communication
  5. city pastoral
    secretary
    administration

And there are the locally-diocesan teams of indigenous pastoral in the different dioceses.

Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers)

  • employees (men and women, funcionários/as): 10
  • persons working on fee basis (personas honor arias): 2
  • local teams of volunteers: 20
  • Bishop - president: 1

Staff members of your institute[2]

1 Bishop1 priest1 nun8 lay people20 volunteers (priests, religious and lay people)

Qualifications of staff members of your institute

1 PhD in anthropology1 licentiate in anthropology2 licentiate in social workA licentiate in communicationsA licentiate in History and GeographyA licentiate in PhilosophyA licentiate in theology, Bible2 lawyers1 licentiate in management and accounting

Questions relating to the work of your institute

What pastoral options do you feel obliged to?

  • Support and assistance of all pastoral work of theIndio diocesan mission team [equipos Dicocesanos Indígenistas].
  • Consulting/speaking activity and alliance with the indigenousorganisations to protect their rights.
  • To impact on the design of public policies which consider the interests of indigenous peoples.
  • To contribute to the strengthening and revitalization of the ethical, religious,linguistic and cultural values of the original peoples.

What are the pastoral focus areas of your institute?

  • Revision, updating and development of the new Indian Mission Pastoral Plan ["Plan de Pastor Misionero Indígena," Plan de Pastoral?].
  • Conducting workshops for education and training of indigenist? missionaries.
  • Mission Week [Jornada de Semana Misionera] (indigenous and non indigenous missionaries).
  • To organise workshops and meetings with indigenous people, under the sign of the indigenous theology [teología india].
  • To accompany the diocesan teams to the indigenous pastoral.

What pastoral aims does your institute pursue?

To promote, coordinate and consolidate a national indigenous pastoral, which is committed to the protection of human rights and dignity of indigenous peoples, based on the concepts and instructions of the new mission pastoral plan (currently under revision and updating).

What pastoral services does your institute provide?

  • Documents of the Indian Mission Pastoral Plan
  • Workshops and training of indigenous and non-indigenous people who are working in the indigenous pastoral.
  • Training of new pastoral workers in the indigenous pastoral.
  • Education and Training in the subject of Teología India, missiology, etc.
  • Workshops on rights of indigenous peoples.
  • Workshops on inculturation and interculturalism.
  • Education and training in the legal field.
  • Workshops on communication and indigenous rights.

What pastoral processes have you initiated or accompanied recently?

The institution starts with the ecclesial attention for a new reality at the national level, which is devoted to the presence of indigenous populations in urban areas. This is a new challenge, which requires a new and firm attitude and presence in accordance with the reality and necessity of urban Indians.

The reflection on the "good life" is a recent initiative and certainly very valuable, although there is a clear andine? vision, we know that every people have their own utopias and projects for life according to its own culture, values and stories.

What does this mean for the areas of catechesis, deaconry and liturgy?

This is an ongoing challenge, but in this sense, the missionaries search on a long path of reflection, dialogue and conversion a way of guiding the indigenous communities, where the main method is the inter-religious dialogue, with the concern on the priority of the inculturation of the Gospel, which promotes and strengthens the protagonists and the self-determination of these original peoples.

What notion of God inspires your work?

The God of life; a God who is close, friendly and respects diversity, an ally of the poor and always present in the fighting and fair cultural, religious and socio-political demands of the excluded.

In how far does Christian spirituality shape your work?

Christian spirituality is the foundation of everything that is done in the institution that means the obligation - work of CONAPI aims at building a community living together in justice, solidarity and equality in diversity.

We believe that the Spirit of God and of Jesus Christ is present in every work, the encounter between missionaries and indigenous communities.

What processes do you use or develop to analyse reality? How are these elaborated and how are they linked to pastoral care? How do you pass these processes on?

A very special attention to what happens at the country level and the situation of indigenous peoples in this context. The meeting with the representatives of the teams in the dioceses and vicariates and the different moments of encounter with the indigenous peoples are moments that teach us much about the true reality of indigenous peoples at country level. Nevertheless, areas of analysis and reflection on the internal level as an institution is important and the regular public meetings with other indigenous institutions.

It is a methodology of work, revision, evaluation and updating of the ecclesial presence of indigenous communities. It is of unique importance to have an updated and objective interpretation of the reality of indigenous peoples to be able to respond with care and sincerity to the same requirements.

What prophetic approaches does the institute put into practice with a view to shaping society?

Indigenous peoples must be involved in all areas of society, but with their particular cultures, that means to participate without ceasing to be indigenous, to contribute starting from their ways of thinking, to act and to understand the reality. One cannot think of a democratic and equal society in which an exclusion of "others" or the poor exists.

What does the work of the institute involve exactly? (Framework conditions? Publications? Courses? Lectures? Congress?...)

  • Meeting: inter-institutional (governmental, network of NGO-Indigenists etc.).
  • Workshops and training and ongoing training of indigenous people.
  • Conferences on education, health, environment, etc.
  • Visits to the local teams, a permanent communication with the local indigenous teams.
  • Permanent (bi-monthly) meetings with the diocesan indigenous teams, members of the CONAPI.
  • Meeting with indigenous organisations (ethnic and national).
  • Development of materials to disseminate culture and reality of indigenous peoples (folder, triple folder, magazines, posters, radio programs, publications in newspapers, web, etc.)
  • Organisation of and participation in conferences on subjects relating to indigenous issues.

What magazines, periodicals, books, manuals, work aids, methodological instructions etc. does your institute publish?

  • Implementation and subsequent support of the radio program "TEKOGUERO AYVU" Saturdays on the radio Cáritas, on indigenous issues.
  • Development of messages and updating the website.
  • Preparation of various materials and publications on indigenous issues. Example: DIM magazine, calendars and other material for the CONAPI.
  • Development of short newspaper articles and press releases.
  • Exhibitions of material that was developed for the different activities of CONAPI.

What do you consider to be the most important service of your institute?

In recent it is of great importance to focus on interreligious and intercultural dialogue. Interculturalism is also a fundamental issue when it comes to equality, inclusion, respect for differences, promotion of human and evangelical values, participation, etc.

How do you evaluate the work of your institute?

It extends its presence and impact on the indigenous concerns. The networked and therefore subject related work of sectors and actors is a current and reliable mission of the institution.

Furthermore, the active participation of indigenous people concerning the protection of their rights and the empowerment of matters that effect them, is of great importance.

What are the most important developments that you are dealing with at present?

  • To ally with sectors of civil society and churches for effective fulfillment of the law and respect for the rights of indigenous peoples.
  • To impart activities of the local teams of indigenous pastoral and to support in areas like health, education, territorial demands, training and consultative guidance of organisations.
  • Cooperation with indigenous peoples.
  • Cooperation with indigenous peoples in a better education of their relatives and bigger protagonists.
  • Promotion and cooperation of the development of public policies that respect the social, ecological and cultural rights of indigenous peoples.

What are the main difficulties your institute is confronted with in its work?

The state lacks of a clear policy concerning indigenous peoples. The violation of the rights of the original peoples and the non-fulfillment of the laws that promote the concerns and the struggle of indigenous people. The moroseness and extreme bureaucracy of state institutions, which should promote and protect indigenous peoples.

What challenges do you perceive for your institute at present?

  1. The approval of the Indian Mission Pastoral Plan by CEP Conferencia Episcopal Paraguaya, [Paraguayan Episcopal Conference] and once it is approved, its implementation and socialisation.
  2. To strengthen the diocesan teams to the indigenous pastoral.
  3. To plan inter-ethnic meetings for the revival of their cultures.
  4. To reach a larger visibility of the indigenous population at the national level.
  5. To reach effective fulfillment of the laws regarding indigenous peoples.
  6. To provide legal instruments to the indigenous peoples to protect their rights.
  7. To impact on the development of public policies, which consider needs of the original peoples.
  8. Deepening and revival of cultural, linguistic and religious values that are owned by each ethnic group.

What hopes, dreams and visions do you have for your institute?

That it may change the reality of discrimination in which indigenous peoples live with its activities and commitment and by supporting the same intense involvement in the design of policies, plans and programs that encourage their struggles and demands.

To what extent does your institute support laypeople in the Church and in society?

We use all the facilities (workshops, meetings, conferences, radio programs, homilies, etc.) to create a Christian awareness and commitment to the difficult situation of indigenous peoples at the country level.

How do you communicate your experiences and results to the respective local church, to neighbouring local churches and to other addressees (e.g. institutions affiliated to you)?

  • There are two monthly meetings of the executive secretaries (depending on the CEP), where communication of experiences, difficulties and challenges takes part, that exist in all pastoral coordination including the indigenous pastoral.
  • Another opportunity for information and exchange of experiences and challenges are the two monthly meetings of all representatives of the various indigenes teams of the different dioceses.
  • The meetings of the pastoral workers of the different dioceses are the other facility for the socialization of experiences and challenges of indigenous pastoral.
  • Then there is the annual meeting with the bishops of the Paraguayan Bishops Conference.

To what extent does cooperation with the Bishops’ Conference of your country or with your diocese take place?

The objectives of CONAPI, part of the protection of the rights, life and dignity of indigenous peoples, based on the guidance principles of the CEP, the entire pastoral ministry in favor of indigenous peoples are implemented in coordination with the bishops and the local teams in the various dioceses of the country.

It is all about that the bishops are constantly informed, to provide criteria for decisions concerning the missionary indigenous pastoral; to support and strengthen the indigenes missionaries in their engagement to protect and support the lives of indigenous people through activities in areas such as health, education and territorial claims. The work of CONAPI is engagement, presence and position of the CEP on the side of indigenous people of the country.

What linkages/networks are in existence at national level?

From CONAPI side there is a coordination space between different group teams of coordination of indigenous pastoral at country level. Furthermore, the CEP has  different pastoral areas with a bishop in charge and with executive secretaries (coordinators), which is also a coordinating body under the authority of the Episcopal general secretary of the CEP.

What linkages/networks are in existence at international level?

The CONAPI has experience to be networked at the level of the Cono Sur (Association of Southern South America), particularly with the Indigenous Pastoral of Brazil (CIMI) and Argentina (ENDEPA). It is also networked with AELAPI (Articulación ecumenica Latinoamericana de Pastoral Indígena, Ecumenical Latin American network of indigenous pastoral).

What kind of interreligious cooperation does take place with non-Christian religions?

The Conapi has the rich experience of working with Catholic indigenous peoples and groups who live their own faith or religious experience that means with non-Christian peoples. That is not problem, on the contrary, a fortune because God reveals himself as he wants and to whom he wants, therefore the respectful parting of religious experiences of non-Christian indigenous peoples is a big fortune and a extraordinary experience of mutual enrichment.

What kind of ecumenical cooperation does take place with non-Catholic churches?

Various spaces of encounter and battles that have respect for life and the rights of indigenous peoples, are shared with members of other churches; what unites us is the concern, the reality and the lives of indigenous people. The CONAPI is a very open and respectful organisation in terms of differences: cultural, religious, ecclesial, linguistic, political, etc.

Which theological mergers/associations are you affiliated with (personally or as an institute)?

The CONAPI is connected with the COFERPAR (Confederación paraguaya de los Religiosos, Paraguayan religious association), the AELAPI (Articulación Ecumenica Latinoamericana de Pastoral Indígena, Ecumenical Latin American network of Indigenous Pastoral).

How can we assist you with your intercontinental exchanges and with exchanges between the continents?

  • To strengthen the existing pastoral groups and to provide support for training and education of pastoral workers in each country.
  • To support and promote the organisation and participation of the indigenes missionaries in international forums, conferences and meetings.
  • To help the pastoral team to train the addressees of the cooperation by themselves (catechists, leaders, indigenous people etc.) and train them in the empowerment and active participation in society and church.



  1. It would be interesting to know among other things whether course participants are active at parish, diocesan or supra-diocesan level and whether courses are attended by priests, religious or laypeople.
  2. It would be interesting to know among other things whether the staff members of the institute are priests, religious or laypeople.