Fr. Nestor Moron SAC – The First Pallottine In the Antarctic

base marambio2[1]Nestor Moron in the Antarctic: Nestor is part-time chaplain to the Argentine Air Force VII Brigade in Moreno.  Members of the Brigade went on a spell of duty in the Antarctic in December and Nestor was asked to accompany them, because of his parish commitments in Areco he could not go then but agreed to travel in January. The trip was postponed twice because of adverse weather conditions, but finally on January 20 he travelled with a contingent to the Air Base in Rio Gallegos, however once again the weather was not favourable and they spent two days there awaiting a ‘window’ in the weather. Nestor celebrated St. Vincent Pallotti’s feast day with the group in Rio Gallegos and at 3.30 on January 23 they were informed that they had 20 minutes to get ready for their flight to the base in the Antarctic.

The flight was a further 4 and a half hours and Nestor writes “the plane began its descent and we saw appear a mountain surrounded by eternal ice and the islands of floating ice as previously only seen in books. On leaving the plane and walking on the Antarctic I felt like the astronauts who walked on the moon, the Pallottine community had arrived on the white continent.”

DSCN0160Nestor quickly set to work hearing confessions and that evening celebrated Mass and he blessed and enthroned a picture of St. Vincent Pallotti in the chapel of the Air Base. The rhythm of the following days was to hear confessions and celebrate daily Mass, visit other bases nearby and talk with the personal who spend from 12 to 14 months at the base and with others who rotate every three months. He was able to practice his English with scientists from the Czech Republic and Poland, and Portuguese with those from Brazil and proudly raised the Irish flag and that of the Community of Clonmacnoise, San Antonio de Areco. Those who are stationed at the Base number from 180 to 250, depending on the time of year and the visits from the priest chaplains are much appreciated. Those working there shared with Nestor their tasks in measuring the effects of global warming, in weather mapping and palaeontology studies.

RSCN0170There is an old saying that “you know when you are going to the Antarctic but you never know when you will leave it.” Nestor spent a week there and experienced temperatures which ranged from 12 centigrade below 0 to 40 degrees below. Nestor remarked that the beauty of creation and the profound silence there made him aware of the presence of God and of the hunger for God of those stationed there, every Sunday a Minister of the Eucharist leads a celebration of the Word and distributes Communion between visits from a priest chaplain. Before a group ventures out on a mission they always visit the little chapel because each mission involves risk.  Congratulations to Nestor on this milestone in our history—confirmation of “join the Pallottines and see the world”!

(From The Provincial Newsletter by Fr. Derry Murphy SAC)