Our charism is to accompany those living in poverty in the most abandoned places. I served in Brazil for 36 years. I ministered to farmers and indigenous peoples in river communities. I worked with them in their land conflicts and human rights issues, always helping strengthen their community bonds. I provided pastoral ministry to women, youth, and children through Bible study and prayer groups.
These activities characterize the outreach and dedication of all our sisters in the Brazilian Province.
A lasting gift that so many of us treasure is the pedagogy we learned with the people who taught us how to interact with them. We help the people identify their problems, and we guide them to organize around these problems with each other in their own way. The people are so creative, resourceful, welcoming, and open.
What we learned from them is transformative in so many ways. Solidarity and collectivity are almost sacred. Be it the struggle in the vindication of their rights, or tending to the sick, helping families to cover their homes with palm leaves for roofs, hospitality when traveling, or any other need, the Brazilian people respond to each other.
Years ago, as I was leaving one of the villages we serve, a woman gave me an egg, a gesture that is so common among the people. When I walked on to the next village, I gave it to the woman who was hosting me for the night. She boiled the egg and cut it up into five pieces for all of us to eat that night with rice.
In so many ways, this formation in mission is something of inestimable value that we receive from the people we serve, who have so little materially and share so richly and readily from their abundant wisdom with others.
What privilege was mine, for so many years, to receive so much from these unforgettable people! They, and what they taught me, will live in my heart forever! May I attempt to live what they witnessed for me!