In the somewhat lengthy-named diocese of “San Roque de Presidencia Roque Sáenz Peña” in the remote Chaco province of northern Argentina, radio is perhaps the most important means of communication. For this is one of the poorest dioceses in the country and one with a host of different social problems and conflicts. Many children suffer grave malnutrition, and „the poverty here is no less than in Africa“, says Father Adolfo Kocka, a local parish priest. The majority of the region is covered in a jungle, known not without reason as „El Impenetrable“. Many of the settlements are relatively – and in some cases completely – inaccessible. There is no telephone network, and the mobile phone signal will not penetrate through the dense rainforest. Hence radio is the most important means of communication.
For twenty years now the Catholic radio station „Radio Maria Auxiliadora“ has been providing a precious service in the region, helping the priests in their daily ministry. It is not only a vital instrument of the Church‘s pastoral outreach but also an indispensable means of communication and information generally. During the coronavirus pandemic, people all over the world have gained a new awareness of the importance of the means of social communication both for the Church and for society generally. But here in this vast and inaccessible region, the need is every much as great even during „normal“ times.
Unfortunately, though, the radio mast was recently badly damaged by lightning, reducing its range to just 13miles or so (20 km). Needless to say, this was a bitter blow.