Brazil is rich not only in its biodiversity but also in its religious background. The dominant religion of Brazil historically was and still is Christianity. Brazil possesses a rich spiritual society formed from the meeting of the Roman Catholic Church with the religious traditions of African slaves, indigenous people and immigrants. But in the recent decades its religiosity is shaken by a deeper threat from the fastest growing secularism and inclination towards materialism. This fact has sped up greatly the decline of vocation to priesthood in Brazil in general. Our Province in Brazil is not an exception to this.
When lack of vocation, and death of few confreres in sequence came as real threats to the future of the Province in Brazil, our General Council came forward with a concrete suggestion to the Provinces in India to help the Brazil Mission with ten missionaries in accordance with the request of Rev. Fr. Gilberto, the erstwhile Provincial of Brazil Province and the South-East Province volunteered to take up the challenge.
Accordingly, the first three missionaries of the SE Province, namely, Frs. AJR Benedict, S. Eldin Bernard and F. Justin arrived in Brazil in the year 2011, followed by Frs. G. Jagannathan and D. Arockiaraj in 2013 and Frs. F. Daniel Raj, J. Stephen Dass and S. Jose Devasahayam in 2014. From the moment of their arrival, the missionaries look at this Province as their Mother Province and contribute to the growth of the Province. Their presence in the Province has certainly made a significant impact on the life of the Province. Some important aspects are the following:
- The lack of community life makes the personal life of the confreres and progress of the Province stagnant. The added number of the missionaries facilitated to form communities in all the parishes. The emphasis of the Superior General on this aspect during his visit, the continuous effort of the Provincial and the collaboration of the members, keep the spiritual and community life healthy.
- We have surprised the locals by our ability to adapt to the host culture within a short span of time, because generally, inserting one into the host culture leads to a total personal disorientation, i.e., impaired awareness, especially regarding time, place and personal identity. But love wins them all. The nature of the geographical structure of Brazil and vast dioceses with a few priests have caused many dioceses to have parishes with many substations, for example, Christ the Redeemer parish, situated in the northern part of Brazil, has 36 substations with its farthest substation being 85 km away from the parish. The parishes in Tanguá (Rio do Janeiro) and Caçador (Santa Catarina) have 10 and 24 respectively. The distance, poverty, misery, tiredness and a constant challenge from various denominations of the Protestants only increase our ardent desire to do the mission of rendering our spiritual service to the people of God with immense joy and love. Our prison ministry in the diocesan level, youth ministry, mission in the remotest areas, participation in the diocesan programmes and projects, visiting the sick in the hospitals and at home and attending to the spiritual needs of the people without preference and selfish motives are well appreciated and recognized here. As a result, the Bishop of Caçador offered us two more parishes in his diocese.
- We also serve the Province in its administration in various capacities. Fr. S. Eldin Bernard is the Admonitor and the Councilor in charge of Mission and Fr. G. Jagannathan is the Bursar of the Province. Our Province is progressing slowly and steadily under the leadership of the Provincial and the collaboration of the members. The MSFS have a scope and bright future in Brazil.
Fr. S. Jose Devasahayam