Pastoral Social Nacional Paraguay

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Official name Pastoral Social Nacional Paraguay - Conferencia Episcopal Paraguaya (NationalSocial Pastoral Paraguay - Paraguayan Bishops' Conference)
Country / Continent Paraguay / South America
Director of the institute Alberdi 874 e/ Humaitá y Piribebuy – Asunción – Paraguay (Calle Alberdi 782, corner Calle Humaitá and Calle Piribebuy)
Legal holder of the institute Víctor Azuaga Almada (Executive Secretary)
Sponsor of the institute A German organisation helps us to fund some projects and other resources we procure by ourselves through some activities of solidary collection.
Year of foundation 1958
Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers) 10
Staff members of your institute There are several employees - lay people, religious and priests - we do not list it exactly because they are spread across the dioceses and it is somewhat difficult to calculate that. These lay people (pastoral workers), priests and religious work in different areas such as prison pastoral, children pastoral, campesino pastoral, pastoral of human mobility [= migrants], etc.
Contact Alberdi 874

e/ Humaitá y Piribebuy –

Asunción - Paraguay


Particulars of your pastoral institute

Official name

Pastoral Social Nacional Paraguay - Conferencia Episcopal Paraguaya (NationalSocial Pastoral Paraguay - Paraguayan Bishops' Conference)

Director of the institute

Alberdi 874 e/ Humaitá y Piribebuy – Asunción – Paraguay (Calle Alberdi 782, corner Calle Humaitá and Calle Piribebuy)

Legal holder of the institute

Víctor Azuaga Almada (Executive Secretary)

A German organisation helps us to fund some projects and other resources we procure by ourselves through some activities of solidary collection.

Vision / mission statement

Vision: A country that lives the values of the kingdom of God, which have been exposed by Christ, with the explicit option for the poor; where the members of the Paraguayan society are actors and agents of an integral and participatory human development and to feel as such, a development that respects the socio-ecological world around and builds it up.

Mission: To build a church in the light of the Gospel in the historical and social context in which we live, to build an organic, coordinated, participatory and supportive community, which brings transformation to the person, family and society.

Main areas of work

  • Institutional strengthening.
  • Training to citizenship and public policies.
  • Development with social inclusion and solidarity-based economy.
  • Justice and Solidarity.

Addressees of your work (course participants[1])

In the majority groups of campesinos, pastoral workers of the bases, religious, priests, lay people with engagement in the social pastoral of their diocese, parish or basis community.

Year of foundation

The institution was founded in 1958 the, almost at the same time as the Paraguayan Episcopal Conference itself (1956), the first social program of the church at national level in collaboration with the North American bishops. It was founded by Monsignore Aníbal Maricevich together with other heads of Catholic action. For ten years it was named Caritas Paraguaya until 1971/72 when it was transformed into social pastoral.

Organisational structure of the institute

The social pastoral as a fundamental dimension of the evangelizing action of the church is organized at all church levels: national, diocesan, parochial and municipal. The organisational process passes through a number of methodological steps, which order is either fixed or mandatory. More important than the rule is undoubtedly the creativity and local spontaneity.

The organism is dependent on the Conferencia Episcopal Paraguaya (Paraguayan Bishops Conference, CEP) and is composed of a responsible bishop, an executive secretary, a manager, several coordinators of projects in different pastoral areas and the assistants of the projects.

Number of staff (employees, freelancers, volunteers)

Currently, the PSN has 10 employees (funcionários) in the office of the institution. Eight (8) receive salary from social projects, one (1) of the CEP and one (1) volunteer.

Staff members of your institute[2]

There are several employees - lay people, religious and priests - we do not list it exactly because they are spread across the dioceses and it is somewhat difficult to calculate that. These lay people (pastoral workers), priests and religious work in different areas such as prison pastoral, children pastoral, campesino pastoral, pastoral of human mobility [= migrants], etc.

Qualifications of staff members of your institute

Executive Secretary: Víctor Azuaga Almada: Lawyer.Administration: María Ana Gómez Opitz: Licentiate in accounting.Coordinator of the project campesino pastoral: Abel Areco: Lawyer.Coordinator of the pastoral care of human mobility: Sister Ilda Conradi: Licentiate in Social Work, Scalabriniani sister.Coordinator of prison pastoral: Luís Arias: Licentiate in accounting. Priest.Coordinator of Pastoral Children: Gumersinda Duarte. Licentiate in nursing, sister of the congregation of San José de Cluny.Assistants: Students of the law degree course, professors of religious culture and urban ethics and people with many years of experience within the church and social work.

Questions relating to the work of your institute

What pastoral options do you feel obliged to?

Like the entire Paraguayan church we have the preferential option for the poor and defenseless. The most vulnerable population of the country (campesinos, children, women, people in detention), to confer a dignity on them through strategies of working with them, both in organisation, training and education as well as an integral education.

What are the pastoral focus areas of your institute?

Campesino pastoral, human mobility, prison pastoral, children pastoral.

What pastoral aims does your institute pursue?

The human development in the search for the common good.

To support the religious communities so that their autonomy will succeed through the values and criteria of the Gospel, with the ability to plan and implement actions, to demand decision spaces and to fill them.

What pastoral services does your institute provide?

Within the project of the campesino pastoral, we develop monthly workshops on various topics such as ecclesial social teaching, social organisation, ecological agriculture, cooperatives, environmental legislation, organic production techniques, and responsible citizenship.

The different pastoral areas organize regional forums and national conferences in order to continuously evaluate the pastoral work and to analyze the current situations that affect the different regions in which the dioceses are organized.

What pastoral processes have you initiated or accompanied recently?

Training, education and support of the legal aspect have been emphasized in the campesino pastoral.

The pastoral of human mobility works through the realization of processes in the documentation [= documents, "papers"] of migrants who stay in the country illegally.The children's pastoral works in supporting pregnant women during their pregnancy and birth processes up to five years and nine months of the baby.The prison pastoral with the improvement of the living conditions of prisoners in the jails of the country. We have also achieved something important regarding the presidential reprieve.

We are growing slowly but steadily to a social pastoral on country level.

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

It is very rewarding because the accent in pastoral training is set on the third dimension of the attested church without neglecting the other two (liturgical and prophetical), which are fundamental for the completion of the action of building the kingdom of God in the country.

What notion of God inspires your work?

The God who is committed to his people, who loves the needy and gives his life for them. A God who is incarnated in the painful social realities that our people are going through. This God, who is father and mother, full of love and mercy. The God who gives dignity to his people, who teaches and inspires, so that everyone is a protagonist of the change of life, society, the country and the whole world. A God who accuses the injustices and announces a valid option of demands through love. A God who is attentive to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and for listening to his father.

In how far does Christian spirituality shape your work?

We attempt to live the mission of our mother church by practicing the various implemented activities, which are basic practices of a Christian right up to the deepening of more complex topics, for example, we start the meeting (training, workshops, forums, conferences) with a prayer and likewise at the end of the meeting, and we celebrate at least one common Eucharistic celebration. In most cases, we deepen a relevant subject, for example, the charisma of the social pastoral, its role in the church, the spirituality that characterizes us and other topics of theological reflection.

What we are looking for and try to live is not separate of our work and our own personal Christian life. We are trying to include and live these Christian values in our families. Even if it is not so easy, we do not neglect the common Eucharist celebrations and the devotion to the sacraments.

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?

We usually use the dynamics of see - judge - act - celebrations and also the FODA, Fortaleza, Oportunidades, Dificultad y Amenazas (strengths, opportunities, difficulties and threats.

At the national conferences and regional forums help and elucidation of professionals in analyzing reality is available at national and universal level, which in turn use their own reflection dynamics.

The National Social Pastoral, coordinates the activities with the diocesan coordinators, they with the parish, and the latter with those of the chapels by its executive secretary and the coordinators of the areas.

Publications are always worked out through publications in form of written material such as magazines, yearbooks, triple folder, bulletins, CDs, also for means of mass communication and our website.

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

Through the work of organization, education and support of the pastoral workers, campesino groups and other more we succeed in contributing to formation/education of persons who are able to influence the public policies within the society, and to collaborate to change the processes which proceed quite slowly in our country, for example, the agrarian reform, which still does not happen.

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

The publications that we normally issue are the following: a four-monthly magazine in which the dioceses introduce their work and the results of each workshop or training course. We also publish the news from the Executive Secretariat of Social Pastoral, such as results or summaries of what was discussed in international journeys, information from "sister-charities" or the international Caritas.

A yearbook, where summary information appears in each diocese of the work of the year and also the results achieved in relation to the challenges or goals that were set up earlier this year.

Then we have the publication of materials pursuant to the needs that arise during a recent issue, such as material for civic education, the social teaching of the church, agrarian reform and basic education in legal knowledge, legal training, etc.In different pastoral areas where we are present as social pastoral,training programs, education and training, "animation" and supporting of the various communities are available. The diocesan coordinators accompanied by their closer referents or staff as well as representatives from the various pastoral areas of their dioceses take part at the national conferences.

In all our activities we try to cover the travel costs of participants as well as the cost of food, mobility, accommodation, materials, teaching ... a reality that presents itself to be very difficult without the help of those who finance the projects that we conduct.

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

Yearbooks: general information about the work of the year carried out in the dioceses.Information journals: through which the areas inform about their specific work.Books: About the concepts of agrarian reform, responsible citizenship, basic orientation on basic elements of law and others that serves the pastoral workers in their pastoral work and their common life as a tool.

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

The education and training to KSL, legal frameworks, responsible citizenship, agricultural process, sustainable agriculture, manufacturing and production of organic foods, importance of environmental protection, education and instruction for mothers to prevent cases of child malnutrition and the papers of irregular migrants.

How do you evaluate the work of your institute?

Pursuant to the last evaluation, the pastoral workers have been very encouraged when they saw the result of realized work to date, concerning the training and practical realization of what they learned in their own communities. They asked for more training and were eager to improve their communities.On the other side one major challenge is still the growing in the process of the social pastoral. Including the strengthening of some areas such as the women-, health- and prison pastoral.

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

The organisations of the base communities

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

The limited financial resources that do not allow to carry out unexpected activities in the social projects; a lack of human resources and in recent times the lack of mobility. We have a vehicle that has over the years become almost useless if larger distances have to be bypassed. It is important to clarify that we may not come to the neediest communities where the streets are in bad condition.

What challenges do you perceive for your institute at present?

To obtain financing of more social projects in the field of prison pastoral, campesino pastoral, which now strongly increased, children's, women's and health pastoral care. We have hope to receive funding for a project on environment and poor women who are head of the family.

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

With the material support and especially with the offers of training and education, personal and common growth, to get to the more distant and more exposed communities in the country, to strengthen the pastoral work in the dioceses and parishes that the social pastoral is consolidated as a movement of influencing public policies and above all to achieve the common good of the Paraguayans.

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

Through the training the pastoral workers multiply their acquired knowledge by training other citizens, so that their manipulation will be avoided and they can engage in the institutions of their communities, especially the public and they can make health policies at their bases.

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 always spaces of meetings or forums where the implemented work will be announced, for example is the National Social Pastoral member of CODEHUPY (Coordinadora de Derechos Humanos del Paraguay, Coordinator of Human Rights in Paraguay), the campesino pastoral has the Mesa de Desarrollo Sostenible ("table" = platform of sustainable development), a space where various diocesan pastoral and NGO are members. And through own publications of the institution and the website.

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

We are an organism dependent of the Paraguayan Bishops Conference, we need the permission of the bishops to work in their dioceses and we believe that substantial support is lacking on their part to strengthen the social pastoral work further.

What linkages/networks are in existence at national level?

We have the diocesan coordination (a diocesan representative or coordinator appointed by the diocesan bishop).

What linkages/networks are in existence at international level?

Contacts with other social pastoral and the charity of other countries always exist, we have contacts with almost all pastoral or charity organisations around the world. We belong to the Cáritas América Latina.

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

None in organised programs but in other circumstances such as emergencies.

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

We work with the Comité de Iglesias (Church Committee) in some dioceses, but with Christian churches, not with non-Christian churches.

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

We have none as social pastoral, but probably the Theological Institute of theCatholic University of Paraguay.

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

We think that international meetings and workshops are important, because they are spaces where the workers of the social pastoral learn a lot when you consider that important workshops are always given, experiences are being discussed and exchanged. To participate in the international meetings to which we are invited is a trouble for us. For the reasons I already mentioned above, especially because of the topic of limited condition.

  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.