BRAZIL, Joelma Melo •
Being the salt of the earth and light of the world is a difficult mission and disturbing, which can become even more daring within a scenario of violence and sorrow, as is the case of a police station. In the midst of this environment of daily difficulties, Joelma Melo finds places to transmit God’s love. She belongs to the Schoenstatt Women’s Federation. —
Being salt of the earth and light of the world! I am a civil policewoman in Río de Janeiro, where I worked as Police Inspector (previously called detective) in a district police station. I worked on a shift taking care of everyone who came to the station to report a crime, to ask for information, orientation, or to report a loss of documents, etc.
As soon as I assume my shift, I place my small Shrine by my side, (a Bible, a picture of the MTA, the Unity Cross, the “Father and Founder’s Telephone” and my rosary). At that moment, I place myself at the Blessed Mother’s disposal and I say, “Mother, here I am, send me to everyone that you want me to help and make me your instrument.”
Every shift is a surprise and a challenge. Many times, I do not know what to say. How do you talk to little girls who relate how they have been assaulted sexually by a relative, like a father or grandfather, who should protect them? What do you say to comfort those who have lost children— victims of murder or a traffic accident? How do you explain to crime victims that it will be difficult to recuperate money of an entire lifetime that was lost in a robbery? How do you orient a young person arrested for getting involved with drug trafficking, where the family is totally destabilized or alienated?
I am here, count on me, I am going to help you
Sometimes, just small gestures, deeds done with love and sincerity, can be enough to calm or comfort, like taking their hand, looking at them in the eye and saying: “I am here, count on me, I am going to help you.” Then she said, “I have candy, crayons, and small toys in my closet. It was not the institution that taught me to do this, since I am the only one in the place that has these things. I act this way because it is my duty as a Christian, as a consecrated person: to treat others like we would like to be treated and that is the minimum that every Christian can do. Also because I am a public servant, or that I am in this position to serve! I feel happy when I think that God the Father and my Little Mother tell me in my heart “This is my beloved daughter” and then I feel that I give them joy.
I always try to find solutions that go beyond police work, of investigation for example, leading some cases to a friend who is a social worker or to a psychologist, and even a doctor. I counsel them to return to school, to improve in their profession. To make every intervention an opportunity to be different, to be a ray of light in a moment of darkness. To be salt of the earth, light of the world.
Whenever I perceive an opening, I speak about the importance of faith, to see God’s hand behind the events. Sometimes I hand out a little card with the address of the Schoenstatt Shrine, here in Rio de Janeiro, and I say a prayer in my heart: “Blessed Mother, take care that this person finds you, show yourself!”
During these fifteen years as a policewoman, I also have had many sad times. Many times, I returned home with the feeling that I had not done enough. That I could have said something, and I kept quiet. How many times I was obliged to keep quiet, because of fear. Suffering from the criticism of being “a goodie two-shoes,” a “pious one”, for not proceeding with strength. For crying with one who cries. But the Blessed Mother has taken care of me with great affection. I always have her near. When something bothers me, I pray the Confidence Prayer (I trust your might, your kindness…) When I do not know what to say, I intimately pray the Holy Spirit Prayer (Holy Spirit, You are the soul of my soul…)
I try not to lose attachment with the supernatural. When the police station is peaceful, I turn on the TV at 6:00 pm, on channel Cançao Novo (New Song), to pray the Rosary with the shift colleague. On Sundays, when I can, I go to Mass during my breakfast time. When this is not possible, because of emergencies or there are prisoners in the station, I try to attend Mass via the TV—anything and everything in order not to lose intimacy with God. I accomplished this through Fr. Kentenich’s influence on my life. He taught me to have inner freedom. He sustains me at work and in all my life. I was able to get to this point in the strength of the Covenant of Love.
Source: www.schoenstatt.org.br, with approval of the editors
Original: Portuguese. 6 March 2018. Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA. Edited: Melissa Peña-Janknegt, Elgin, TX USA