Q&A with Sr. Zully Rojas Quispe, listening with humility in the Peruvian Amazon

Article published by the Global Sisters Report

To listen with urgency and humility to the cries of the Amazon and its Indigenous people was what Sr. Zully Rojas Quispe asked the church during her speech at the Vatican’s synod for the Amazon region in October 2019.

“Listening with humility to the voice of the Amazon’s poor people, [which is] an expression of the voice of God, commits us to their cry,” Rojas Quispe said during her address to the bishops. “We have to be close to [the Indigenous people] to defend their life, their land and their culture.”

Rojas Quispe is the current provincial of the Dominican Missionaries of the Rosary in Peru. Throughout her religious life, she has carried out different administrative and pastoral ministries that have allowed her to know firsthand the worldview of the Amazonian Indigenous peoples Ese Ejas and Harakbuts, who live in the Peruvian Amazon.

“In 2018, I arrived as a missionary in the Apostolic Vicariate of Puerto Maldonado,” Rojas Quispe told Global Sisters Report. “Accompanying the Indigenous people and listening to their dreams has been a reaffirmation of my vocation.”

Due to her expertise in accompanying social leaders and Indigenous ministries, the Latin American Confederation of Religious (CLAR) appointed her as an auditor for the 2019 synod for the Amazon.

“At the synod, I recalled to the church that this land is wounded,” Rojas Quispe said. “We have to make the world aware that [the Amazon’s] forests are being killed and rivers polluted in the name of an economic system that devastates everything in its way.”

According to Rojas Quispe, the Indigenous people’s lives, territory and culture are constantly in danger due to illegal mining, excessive use of mercury, and deforestation, which are consequences of extractivism in the region.

“There is a clear state absence in these situations,” Rojas Quispe said. “Concessions continue to be granted to the powerful without consulting the Indigenous people. It is a mockery for our people.”

Rojas Quispe’s missionary vocation arose more than 25 years ago when she encountered the Dominican Missionaries of the Rosary in the ceja de selva or jungle gateway — one of the highest and most lushly vegetated regions in the Andes. 

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