BRAZIL, jumas •
After two and a half years of not carrying out a mission in the Southeast of Brazil, the Schoenstatt Boys’ Youth departed during the last week of July for Petrópolis – where a few months earlier a landslide caused 230 deaths and left many families homeless. They were determined to express their solidarity through a missionary activity, taking Christ and Mary to the residents, listening to the families, and praying together, convinced that this spiritual support can help the city. —
The mission began with a reception of the parishioners at a delicious lunch, followed by a spiritual retreat for the missionaries to get in the mood for the mission. In fact, however, the mission activity began with the evening Mass at San Antonio Parish, which welcomed the missionaries. On the first day, after Mass, the youth and the street pastoral teamed up to touch a reality that is equally simple and difficult, to touch the suffering Christ, to go to our brothers and sisters on the street and have the opportunity to know and converse with another reality, as well as to offer soup to warm up the cold night of Petropolis. Matheus Silva, one of the missionaries, says about the experience:
“There were only a few people on the street, but among the few who were there, what struck me the most was that Andreia, and Jhonny (street work coordinators) addressed everyone by name, they knew them and treated them like family! This touched me and made me focus even more on my street brothers. I don’t just want to give them food, I want to be family to them.”
Two by two on the streets of the city
With great emotion and willingness, they were sent two by two on the streets of the city. And so it was, from Monday to Friday, mornings, and afternoons, with much dedication, under the sun and even rain (on the last day of the mission). At the end of the visits, in the sharing among the missionaries, it became clear that the mission was accomplished, that it was necessary, and that through the doors that were opened to the young people, a door was opened so that Christ and Mary could live in this house. One of the missionaries, Christoffer, from Curitiba, had his first missionary experience and relates what the visits to the families were like:
“This was my first mission, and it could not have been better. I met many new people, heard many stories, and was touched by the families who are still standing and living on despite great pain. This showed me that my problems were minimal compared to those of the families. I believe that my visit to the homes had an incredibly positive impact, not only on the families, but also on my life. Not only did I learn from the people I visited, but I was also able to bring the presence of the Pilgrim Mother and God. I brought hope to these families, I was able to help them regain the faith that many people had lost.
I am incredibly happy to have been a part of this. Everything was like a light at the end of the tunnel, not only for the families, but also for me.”
Visits to the homes were not the only time the missionaries were able to do missionary work. When they returned from the afternoon mission, they had an afternoon coffee that they shared not only with each other but also with the community of the city, a time that extended to conversations in the homes. Every day, after breakfast, the Rosary was prayed, and Mass was celebrated.
This mission followed the requirement of being open to the community from the first hour until dinner, thus having a comprehensive mission time, because after Mass, the boys of JUMAS invited the young people of the city to have dinner together, a life of communion, a time of prayer and a lot of conversation and fun. In this moment, the youth could learn more about Schoenstatt’s charism, how the missionaries live together, and they could also show who they are and give their testimony.
During the mission, there were some peculiarities in the “routine” of the missionaries. On Monday, they got in a truck and went out with the community to celebrate St. Christopher’s Day, the patron saint of all transportation workers and “the one who carries Christ,” an example the missionaries wanted to follow during the week.
On Thursday, the offer was also a little different: they attended Mass in the morning and then were able to meet and share with the Sisters of Mary’s Ark, a religious community of the Catholic Church. In the evening, a wayside shrine of Mary, the Mother of God, and her Son, which the missionaries had built, cut, screwed, painted, and fastened themselves during the mission week, was blessed. After the blessing, the community (missionaries and parishioners) divided into four groups and went to the areas where the landslides had occurred in February and March to pray for the people who had lost their lives and homes in this tragedy. A moment that evoked many emotions.
Everyone came back wet but with immense joy
And the last special thing was that on Friday morning, when there were only a few houses left to visit, we had time to visit the Cathedral and the Museum of the Imperial City – the city was once the home of the Emperor of Brazil Dom Pedro II and for a time the capital of the country – because we thought it was important that faith and culture “mix” and that our young people know the history of their country, because no history is built without a past.
As mentioned before, the last part of the mission (Friday afternoon) was marked by rain, exactly the time when some missionaries went to a block of houses and bus stops of the city (open places) to proselytize the people who were there, while others managed to take shelter in the houses they visited. Everyone came back wet, but with a lot of joy and the feeling of having done the duty!
Rio de Janeiro
On Friday it was time to say goodbye to Petrópolis because the missionaries had one more task ahead of them, the mission in Rio de Janeiro!
In Rio de Janeiro, the Men’s Youth were invited by the local family to participate in the III Archdiocesan Youth Pilgrimage, where they experienced moments of adoration, praise, music, conversation and much joy on Saturday (July 30) morning and afternoon. In the evening there was a luau on the beach for the local youth, under the light of the moon, with music and fun.
On Sunday (31/07), the last day of the mission, the missionaries were invited to celebrate the Eucharist at the feet of Cristo Redentor. The entire week of the mission was crowned with the singing of the hymn of the Schoenstatt hero, Franz Reinisch, and it ended with a shout that expressed what all the missionaries believe in: “She will work miracles!
Original: Portuguese. Translation: Maria Fischer @schoenstatt.org