MISSIONARY OF SALESIAN ORDER
Few weeks ago father Shutka was visiting his sister Mr.
Volentier. I call
Mrs. Volentier grandma (starka,) as if she was my grandma. I like her a
lot. I know her and her family from the Slovak church of St. Cyril and
Methodius in New Westminster. Grandma is a Widow. Her son John is married
and has two children. One of her daughters live with her, the other is
married and has three children. Two daughters Anicka and Betka and
son Frank. When Bystrina was Bystrina, Anicka, Betka and Frank were
members of the group.
Last Christmas grandma
first time talked about her brother missionary in South America. When I
learned that he was here visiting, I wanted to meet him. My wish had come
through and here is his story.
Father Shutka is from
Central Slovakia from a small village called Orovnica, close to Hronsky
Benadik or Nova Bana and about 45 Km to 50 Km from Nitra and
about the same from Zvolen.
He works in Ecuador for
the last 33 years from the time he became a priest. He works with a native
tribe called SHUAR in the Amazon's delta.
His destiny starts wit
the leaving his birthplace, his homeland in 1951. In his first years he
spent some time in Italy, Austria and finally immigrated to Ecuador. There
he spent two years, from where he went to study theology in Bogota,
Columbia. In 1960 after he was Ordain as a priest
he returned to Ecuador and started to work in missions with the tribe Shuar, deep in the Amazon's jungle. The situation was very bad, as there
were no schools and health service almost non-existent. The death rate was
very high, especially children. At this time there were missions in the
jungle, but no schools. The Americans donated a small transmitter Collins
1 kW in 1968 and educational transmissions
started in 1968. The Mission hired teachers that were preparing the
programs for transmission and teachers helpers that live in the jungle
with the tribe in many centers, now totaling 244.The children of the tribe
Shuar are getting their education at the beginning in Shuar language, than
in Spanish and finally also in English. This year 226 students graduated
in the system. On the religious side 80% of the Shuar tribe are baptized
Catholics. There are 11 missionaries of Silesian order working in Ecuador
with the tribe Shuar. Their territory covers about 30000 square
kilometers, with a population of 60000 Shuar and 80000 inhabitants of
mixed race called Colonos. As the territory is so vast, they started
another program of educating Catechists. They hold services most of the
time and the missionaries visit each center for one or two days per month.
They also have volunteers from time to time from Germany, USA and even a
doctor from Slovakia.
There were problems with
land as Colonos started to take over the Shuar lands and clear-cut the
rain forest with no compensation for the Shuar. With the help of Peace
Corps from USA, volunteers from Germany, Austria and Italy they have
solved the situation by working closely with the government and approving
co-ops for each center. The missionaries were always on the side of the
natives and that is why their Mission was burned down in town of Sucua in
1968 by the Colonos.
With financial help from
USA, Belgium and mostly from Germany they had started a livestock farms to
improve the financial situation of the natives.
Last week father Shutka
went back to Ecuador to town Quito to tribe Shuar where he continues in
his work. He would like to build more Chapels, educate more Catechist so
they can spread the word of God to the natives in more centers and his
biggest wish is for all children, even the poorest being able to get an
education. Salesman order has missions in some of the poorest countries in
the world and the mission in Ecuador is one of them. There is no
electricity, roads barely suitable for horse.
Father Shutka speaks
English, French, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish and Slovak. If you would
like to help father Shutka to fulfill his dream, he will be most grateful.
P. Juan Shutka
Apartado 17. 12. 466,
BACK TO PEOPLE STORIES
Published in the
Slovak Heritage Live newsletter Volume 1, No. 3, Fall 1993
Copyright © Vladimir Linder 1993
Street, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada V5C 1P6
The above article and photographs may not be copied, reproduced,
republished, or redistributed by any means including electronic, without
the express written permission of Vladimir
Linder. All rights reserved.