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Brazilian Dialogue

Memories of missionaries kept alive

Nov. 21 marked the 10th anniversary of Father Sylvester's cruel death. Keeping his memory alive is important as well as the memories of Sister Dolores Jansen, OSE, and of Sister Maria Doepker, OSU, co-missionaries of the Abbacy of St. Peter's who were mandated to the Diocese of Maceio in Northeast Brazil in the late 1960s.

The celebration of the eucharist, mass of thanksgiving, was held in Marechal Deodoro where Sylvester was pastor at the time of his death and also in the parish of Sao Jose in Trapiche, the original parish of the abbacy team.

What did we want to celebrate and what do we want to keep alive remembering these three generous and enthusiastic religious? We want to remember their mission of forming Christian communities where the people, conscious of their baptismal vocation, struggle together for a truly human and Christian life. We want to remember the need to capacitate pastoral agents, giving value to all, without distinction, journeying together joyfully because of the belief in the power of Christ in each person.

At the offertory we remembered, through the symbol of flowers, Padre Syl (red carnations), the blood shed and his total giving of self to the service of his people; Sister Dolores (yellow and orange lilies), the laughter and joy she spread in her dedicated way of being with the people; Sister Maria (white roses), the love with which she shared her life and the peace she so deeply desired for all.

Sister Dolores, Padre Sylvester, Sister Maria, you have marked our lives. Your memory will remain planted in the hearts of all. The seeds of the reign of God planted with the spirit of joy, availability and faith, have germinated and continue to germinate with vigour in the communities of Trapiche and Marechal. It is up to us to continue to cultivate and to care for these seeds until the reign is fully manifested.

Al Gerwing