As we mentioned in the blog entry where we presented the events that will be held in the Day of the Basque Diaspora 2020, the unique situation the world is living through has meant that the Basque communities all over the world have had to find unique and special ways to participate.

The Lehendakaritza has asked all those diaspora institutions that want to participate and advertise the initiatives they’ve taken to celebrate to send in a video, which will be used to prepare a documentary.

We here at our association and blog wanted to do our part by sharing a video that is meant to be an homage and a recognition of our Diaspora through one of its most important and yet least visible groups: Basque missionaries.  To that end, we asked Jesús María Aristín CP, who was recently named Bishop of the Vicariate of Yurimaguas by Pope Francis to send a message to the worldwide Basque community.  This message, as our title suggests, reminded us a great deal of the message sent by Lehendakari Aguirre in 1955 to all Basques everywhere via a Buenos Aires radio station: “In your adopted homeland be, among all citizens, the best“.

This video is a clip from a longer interview that we’ll be publishing later this week in which we cover the past, present, and future of the Basque Passionists in Yurimaguas.  Chatting with Aristín, we’ll learn about their work and contributions to the community that took them in, as well as such fascinating topics as the Amazonic Synod held a few months ago, where a proposal was made from Yurimaguas to allow for there to be married priests, or the environmental exploitation situation in the Amazon and the struggle against the large corporations that want to prey upon its natural wealth and resources.

And all of this was possible thanks to a collaboration with two organizations which we’ve dedicated very special attention to over the years.

Logo de la Hermandad y la Euzko Etxea de Aranzazu en Lima

On the one hand, we have the Brotherhood of Our Lady of Aranzazu and the Basque center born of it, the Limako Arantzazu Euzko Etxea – Lima Basque Center.  As we’ve tried to explain in our articles, for us, this Basque institution in the New World is very special, because it was founded by the members of the “Basque nation” in Lima in 1612.  Since then, it has managed to survive and thrive, despite all the obstacles and setbacks and ringers the history in that part of the world has put it through.

On the other hand, the Passionist community which has been working so hard in the Peruvian Amazon jungle for over a century.  Since its origins, when the first twelve missionaries arrived in 1913, this Passionist missionary activity has been led by Basques.  It’s gotten to the point that, since the Apostolic Vicariate of Yurimaguas was created by Pope Benedict XV in 1921, all five bishops leading it have been Basques, including the current one.  The neighboring Prelature of Moyobamba was also run by Basque Passionists from its founding in 1953 up to the year 2000.  Of its four bishops, the first three were Basque Passionists.

Logo del Vicariato de Yurimaguas

The absolutely amazing, and hard, work done by these missionaries in the depths of the Amazon jungle could certainly be classified as epic.  It has been the epic journey of Basques of the highest degree of commitment because, lest we forget, of all the different groups that make up the Basque Diaspora, the missionaries are the only ones who did not go out into the world in search of a better life, but rather to try to improve the lives of the communities they went to.

A year ago, we interviewed Jesús María Aristín, during our weekly time on the radio station Onda Vasca, back when he was the Apostolic Administrator of the Vicariate of Yurimaguas.

Aristín, born in Palencia on December 25, 1954, was a resident in the San Ignacio neighborhood of Bilbao from the age of five.  He is a theologian and clinical psychologist, and, since 1979, a Passionist.  Before going out to the missions, he was a parish vicar in the Pasión parish in Bilbao’s Deusto neighborhood at the San Felicísimo, which is the hear of the Holy Heart Religious Province (Sagrado Corazón).  This Passionist province spans an ocean and is divided into four zones: the Iberian Peninsula (the Southern Basque Country and Galicia); Mother of Holy Hope (Venezuela, Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador); Monsignor Romero (El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, and Cuba); and the Andes (Bolivia, Chile, and Peru).

This is our way of joining in on this celebration that is to remember all Basques throughout history, who, for whatever reason, economic, political, in search of adventure, to give back, left our homeland.  They, and alongside them all Basques, have had leading roles, in stories big and small which have changed the world.  So, to all of them, to those who’ve left us and to those who are still taking Basque pride to the far corners of the earth, we salute them and thank them for taking the best of us to every corner of the planet.

And, as in years before, we “light” a candle for those who are no longer with us, to remember them and to help them find their way home.

Argizaiolak
Argizaiolak for the Basques of the Diaspora