Tag Archive for Brazil

Prize for a Social Entrepreneur

LMC BrasilValdeci Antonio Ferreira is the founder of the Comboni Lay Missionaries in Brazil. He is 55 years old and 34 of them have been dedicated to prisoners.

After many years as head of the Assistance for the Protection of Prisoners (APACE) he is currently president of the Brazilian Fraternity of Assistance to Prisoners (FBAC). During this past weekend the daily paper Folha de São Paulo awarded him the prize of social entrepreneur for the system of humane incarceration.

Our sincerest congratulations to him and his cooperators.

May Comboni Always be the great intercessor in this journey towards Resurrection.

Lourdes, CLM Brazil


Folha de São Paulo

LMC BrasilValdeci Ferreira, of the FBAC, was given an award for the system of humane incarceration.

A volunteer for more than 30 years, Valdeci Ferreira of FBAC was recognized for the system of humane incarceration.


He is the leader of FBAC, a federation connected with APACS (Association for the Protection and Assistance of convicts). His mission is to spread this innovative methodology of resocialization of convicts, which aims at recovering the detainees, protect society, help the victims and promote restorative justice.

Receiving the prize, the entrepreneur said that, 34 years ago when he first visited a prison in Itaúna, MG, he could not have imagined receiving the main award of this evening. Visibly moved he said: “Life did not place rugs on my path for me to walk on, but rather stairs and today this is another stairway we are climbing. I need to share this moment with all those we were recovered by passing through APAC and with those who are still there and are the reason for our work and for what I had to give up in my life.”

One of them came up to the stage in his wheelchair. “Here in front of you is someone who went through APAC. I am a recovered individual and I believed in this man,” said Rinaldo Guimarães. “Valdeci always remembers a quote by St. Augustine: “Hope has two daughters: indignation and courage. Indignation is needed in order not to accept things as they are, and courage, like this man’s, to change things and make a difference,” he concluded.

In recognition of his work, Ferreira was elected as Social Entrepreneur of the Year among 100 candidates in the largest competition in the area of Latin America, organized by the Folha in cooperation with the Schwab Foundation.

It is estimated that more than 33 thousand Brazilian convicts have already passed through APACS, units of humanized prisons without arms or armed guards. This alternative system today houses 3,500 prisoners divided in 48 units across Brazil. This method is being tried in 19 other countries.

LMC Brasil

In 1972 this organization developed 12 elements such as work, the value of the person, legal assistance, family, meritocracy, and the principle of self-help in recuperation.

This method has suffered a mere 20% to 28% of recidivism versus the 85% of the common prison system with a cost of only one third of the regular prisons.

Ferreira ran for the grand prize against Bernardo Bonjean, 40, the leader of Avante, an organization offering credit and humanly acceptable terms for micro-businesses not accepted by the banks, and Ronaldo Lemos, 41, of the Institute of Technology and Society (ITS) which developed the application Cambiamos, a tool of direct democracy for the collection of digital signatures in favor of projects of popular empowerment.


LMC Brasil

I went to see an open cut mine, the largest iron ore mine in the world which is located in the mountains of Carajás. When I got there, I was overwhelmed by its size, I took a technical look at that exploitation and thought: at one time I would have given anything to work in a place like this… Then I looked at the reality of this place and felt great sorrow remembering all those who are affected by the impact it has for hundreds of miles. It was not by chance that we had to travel an entire night to visit this mine, since between the mountains of Carajás and São Luís stands Piquiá.

And in Piquiá, where our mission is located, we are well aware of the social and environmental impact of the mine. The ore extracted from there is taken to Piquiá by train to be treated in the various local iron plants, then still by train it is taken to the harbor of Sâo Luís from where it is shipped all over the world.

Piquiá is a neighborhood on the outskirts of Acailândia, MA and is divided into High Piquiá, where we live, and Lower Piquiá, where the iron plants are located in people’s backyard.

LMC BrasilThe inhabitants of Lower Piquiá suffer daily from the contamination coming from the factories. With the coming of summer, the contamination increases and, on a daily basis, one sees black clouds spewing from the smokestacks without any emission control and without any type of government control. The amount of iron dust found in the air, and the damage caused to our health and wellbeing are staggering. While visiting the families in Lower Piquiá, I could not remain indifferent to the stories of life and sufferings encountered by this community due to the contamination and the destructive environmental impact caused in this area that used to be a little paradise.

Over the years, there have been many struggles, the people united to fight for their rights, for an healthy and clean place where to live and, little by little, they have had some success against these giants in order to give dignity to their lives. Currently, they already have a piece of land and a project for the construction of a new neighborhood, “Piquiá de la Conquista,” removed from the source of contamination. Bureaucracy is still the main obstacle, but hope still lives on…

Lower Piquiá, already resettling!

LMC Brasil

Liliana and Flávio CLM Brazil

A Prayer for Brazil

Oracion Brasil

The cry of the excluded is a movement tha takes to the streets on September 7, Brazil’s Independence Day.


This cry is a demonstration of the people denouncing how the government does not represent the will of the people, but rather, on the contrary, the interests of the elite.


Since we could not take part in this symbolic demonstration and not wanting to be indifferent to the cause, in the parish of St. Lucy we held a prayer vigil on the night of September 6. It was a good time and full of symbolism where we united our hearts to Christ and remembered the sufferings of the persecuted and of all those whose rights are being denied. We prayed for a more just country and for a more dignified life. At this time of gathering with the community and with God I felt praise in my heart, thanking God for this people:

… who gathers in prayer;

… who does not give up in face of adversity;

… who, not only points fingers, but also faces corrupt government officials;

… who does not lose hope;

… who daily teaches me that stopping is to die, to suffer is to live, and that love is always possible.

Oracion BrasilFlávio and Liliana, CLM in Brazil

News from the CLM Liliana and Flávio – The Harvest Festival in Piquiá, Brazil

LMC PiquiaLast Sunday, June 9, the Harvest Festival was held in the community of San José of the settlement of João do Vale part of the parish of Santa Luzía de Piquiá, Brazil. It was attended by more than a thousand people from the various parishes of the city of Acailândia and by Bishop Vilson Basso of Emperatriz.

The goal of this celebration, already in its 10th edition, is to celebrate the gift of the harvest and to reflect on the earth as the venue of work and means of subsistence for the family, to remember the struggles and demand justice in the right to own land and in respecting creation.

LMC Piquia

This year’s theme was “Family agriculture in defense of life” and the motto was “Cultivation and the care of creation” as per Genesis 2:15.

The celebration opened with a welcome in the local sports center and with a breakfast prepared with the local products of the earth (manioc, pumpkin and a variety of fruit) coming from the sharing of the various communities in attendance. The Eucharist followed, during wich Bishop Vilson Basso spoke of the importance of family agriculture and of the duty to fight for ownership of the land and to denounce the oppressors. He stressed the importance of not giving up, because it is a just struggle, and also of the need for unity. He also remembered the 10 farmers who were murdered in a ranch in the State of Pará (https://www.cptnacional.org.br/index.php/publicacoes-2/destaque/3794-chacina-em-redenca-pa-deixa-pelo-menos -10-posseiros muertos) and all those who are persecuted or coerced to leave their land.

At the offertory, the various communities presented at the Lord’s altar some of their agricultural products as a sign of gratitude and of hope in a more respectful relationship between humankind and creation.

After lunch, there were many cultural shows in the form of theatre, dances and games, ending with the handing over to each community of a sapling of Ipê and with the announcement of the community that will hold the festival next year.
LMC PiquiaLiliana Ferreira and Flávio Schmidt, CLM in Brazil

Visit of the Superior General of the Comboni Missionaries at Piquiá, Brazil

LMC BrasilOn July 31 here in the mission of Piquiá, in Maranhão, we received the visit of the superior general of the Comboni Missionaries, Fr. Tesfaye Tadesse, accompanied by the provincial superior of Brazil, Fr. Dario Bossi. For the occasion we were joined by the community of Balsas, also located in Maranhão.

I feel that for the general it was an important moment to see first hand the reality of this mission, especially of the people of Piquiá de Baixo, who are asking for the resettlement of the neighborhood.

It was also an important moment of togetherness and sharing as a Comboni family! We had the opportunity to share our activities and perspectives.

The visit ended the evening of August 2 with a solemn Mass, well attended by the communities, not only from the parish of Santa Lucía, but also from St. John the Baptist, an old Comboni parish. The Mass was followed by a reception.

It was beautiful to see the affection of the people for the presence and the history of the Comboni Missionaries in this mission.

Let us pray always for vocations, both for the Comboni family and for the entire Church!

LMC BrasilFlávio Schmidt, CLM Brazil