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Mario's mission...

Whilst researching some anglican churches in Argentina (not an easy task given my lack of Spanish and the "patchy" nature of missionary involvement in the past) it came as a delight to hear from Revd Mario Agreda, inviting me to visit his parish some 30km outside the city centre...
Like many capital cities, what would have once been separate communities have been 'swallowed up' into the greater city state that is now Buenos Aires.
Taking all my courage (and taxi fare) in hand, I set off to meet Mario and discover something of his parish ministry...

Born, brought up and educated in B.A. Mario had become disaffected with the Catholic faith of his childhood and, whilst at university and suffering from some health issues, he (in his words) 'discovered God's grace, healing and the Anglican Church'...

Since his theological training, marriage to Paula (a delightfully open and hospitable woman with little or no English) and their being blessed with three children, Mario has undergone a curacy and incumbency in another part of the city before moving to his present post some 18 months ago...

During the day together I also met Andy - a CMS sponsored missionary who studied theology in Chile ( being examined in Spanish!) and who has worked in various churches throughout Argentina and who hopes to become involved in helping young Argentinian Christians discern their vocation and obtain the appropriate training within the country.....
It was insightful witnessing CMS sponsored missionaries in situ and their dependancy upon God's resourcefulness. ( Have we become too "cosy" in our large, reasonably well resourced dioceses?!)

Mario showed me the church ( which wouldn't look out of place in any UK city) and told me something of its history:
The regular congregation still preferred to use BCP.
The congregation was aging and declining.
Many local (mainly middle class) people didn't know what Anglicanism was, believing it to be largely something for English speaking expatriates.
Indeed, many people these days, Mario suggested, fail to see the point of living out a faith and / or of belonging to a faith community.

He thanked God for the faithful church members, their burgeoning children's ministry and for his chaplaincy connection with the local bilingual, private school, itself established by a previous anglican parish priest.
Visiting the school took me back to 'Tanglin" (an ex army school in Singapore where the buildings and the ethos oozed with "Englishness") and it is clear that Mario and the school's head have enormous mutual respect for one another. Between them, they are trying to discern what role Mario's chaplaincy might offer the pupils (aged 1 to 18) in the 21st century...

Visiting a fellow priest in a different part of the Anglican Communion, grappling with very similar issues to what I believe we face in Dyffryn Clwyd, didn't offer some startling solutions to bring to Ruthin but did remind me of the value of prayer, for the Holy Spirit's work sustaining as well as inspiring and also to rejoice in God's grace, vast and overflowing and calling Mario, me - all of us- to reflect that faithfullness...

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