Comboni Lay Missionaries

Essa Luta is Nossa (This is Our Fight)

LMC Brasil

PODCAST 2 – BEGINNING WITH SONG “Essa Luta è Nossa Essa Luta è do pouvo…”

Hi, we are Anna and Gabriel, and this is Ciranda, the podcast about our mission experience in Brazil. In which we try to bring you into the everyday life experiences and choices of those who live in this part of the world.

Edvar Dantas Cardeal lives in a small village, on the outskirts of Açailândia, in the hinterland of Maranhão. Unfortunately, he still does not own his history, because he lives where no one would want to live. When he arrived in Piquiá, he really liked the name of the place, an homage to one of the region’s largest trees with delicious fruit, The Piqui.

The community of Piquiá de Baixo (so called because it is located in the area lower than the next neighborhood) was created in the 1970s, when this part of the region was still called “the gates of the amazonia,” rich in vegetation. People planted and fished from the river that kissed the banks of the community. It was a little paradise in the memories of the inhabitants.

Then in the 1980s, the “development” came, which even changed the name of the village to “Pequiá,” an acronym for “PetroQuímico Açailândia.” Açailândia itself, or “Açaí City,” another tasty fruit typical of the region, has lost the meaning of its name, where progress and respect for life cannot coexist.

Next to Edvar’s house were installed 14 steel furnaces, a thermal power plant, and, to top it off, a steel mill. The people of Piquiá did not even know what a steel plant was and what this would mean for their health, their lives, and that they would become little more than gears in this industrial machine. Companies came with manifestos of jobs, jobs for all, but the intent was always and only to settle there making the most at the least possible price, deceiving the community and destroying the way of life of those families.

It is 2005, Edvar heads to the small house of the Piquiá di Baixo inhabitants’ association of which he is a member, it might seem like just another day but perhaps he does not know that from that day began the real struggle and resistance of his community! He was tired of seeing iron dust fall from the sky and settle on every surface he finds. He sees friends and relatives increasingly starting to get sick, strong respiratory complications, skin infections, constant headaches, intestinal problems, exhaustion…his much-loved village was falling apart more and more.

Edvar waited 60 days before he was able to pick up a pen and a blank sheet of paper, he does not know how to start writing this letter, how to use the best words to tell about his community, but he knows for sure to whom it will be directed: To President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva!

Soon after time, the response arrived, with directions pointing to routes and public bodies that the community should seek out. The people of Piquiá soon realized that alone, though many, they would not be able to fight against a boulder the size of a steel mill, so little by little they managed to weave around them a strong network of allies, who took the community’s grievances and demands to international institutions, such as the UN. Thus the struggle that was started by Edvar became everyone’s, the community of Comboni Fathers and the associations that over time joined in this great resistance.

Of all the mobilizations carried out by the community over the years, some were very notable, such as the one that took place in December 2011, when hundreds of residents marched and blocked the super road that connects Açailândia to São Luís. The blockade lasted longer than 4 hours in a prolonged protest with burning tires. Another noteworthy protest was the one that forced the Steel mills to pay for expropriation, when residents made a real cooperative effort and, divided into shifts, closed the entrance and exit gates of the industries for 30 hours.

“We must do the possible in the impossible” was what Edvar repeated to his people in Piquiá, and this struggle, of all people, paid off. Through all this mobilization, the approval of the urban project for the new neighborhood was obtained on December 31, 2015. Due to bureaucracy, which is one of the tools of oppression of the poor, the resources to start the work were not made available until November 2018, when work began on a new Neighborhood: “PIQUIA DA CONQUISTA!

Edvar Dantas Cardeal died on January 23, 2020, a victim of the same disease he was fighting. His lungs were contaminated with iron dust, and his struggle ended after more than a month in the intensive care unit, due to respiratory failure and other complications.

Edvar Dantas, who started this struggle, will never see its end, but his ideas and hope live on in the new people of Piquiá da Comquista!


The struggle, therefore, is still ongoing and its outcome is open to debate.

The community’s achievements have been significant, especially considering the disproportion in scale between the local community and the national/global industry. Perhaps this is why the claims of the Piquiá de Baixo Community transcend the local struggle and become a larger banner that exposes the other side of development agendas. At the same time that it reaches international levels (such as the UN), this struggle takes place on the ground of the community, in direct human relations, as so well expressed in the letter that Mr. Edvard wrote to his nephew Moisés: The beauty of this battle is that we do not get tired, and when there is a defeat we react with more enthusiasm and conviction: it is very clear that we are victims, there is an obvious injustice! The law cannot be wrong: we will be compensated! Sometimes even grandparents delude themselves and dream like an inexperienced young person…. After all, it is hope that sustains us. But I learned, Moses, that hope is a child who needs two older sisters: patience and wisdom.


This is the ciranda song; it is danced in a circle, each member hugging his or her neighbors and moving to the rhythm by stamping their feet loudly. This song is a dance related to the Brazilian folk tradition.


Anna and Gabrielle, CLM in Brazil

How it all began

LMC Piquia

PODCAST 1 – Beginning with ciranda song.

This is the ciranda song, you dance in a circle, each member hugging his or her neighbors and moving in rhythm by banging their feet loudly. This song is a dance related to Brazilian folk tradition.

Hi, we are Anna and Gabriel, and this is Ciranda, the podcast about our mission experience in Brazil. In which we try to take you into the everyday life choices of people living in this part of the world.

We start with a question that we have been asked on several occasions over the past year: what does it mean to leave with the Comboni Lay Missionaries? Who are they? And why specifically in Brazil?

We got to know the reality of the Comboni Lay Missionaries (CLM) after some word of mouth until we met this reality in the Venegono area. The LMCs were created following the charism of Saint Daniele Comboni. A priest, from the first half of the 1800s, who dedicated his life to the mission in ways that were new for the time and probably also for today, with the goal, as he said, of “saving Africa with Africa.”

Comboni Lay Missionaries carry on this spirit in the various missions around the world by accompanying the presence of Combonians on the ground.

To better understand this new way of doing and being mission, which is different from what we had known in the past, we did a 2-year journey of getting to know the CLM, at the end of which, together with our reference group, we were proposed to do a period of experience in an international reality. We had proposed ourselves for the mission areas of Latin America, and at the same time in the mission in Brazil the urgency had arisen to find a couple of volunteers who could carry on the presence of the Laity, already inserted for several years in the reality of Piquià. So, in May 2022, we left, leaving our little house in Cuneo in the direction of Brazil, in the state of Maranhão, municipality of Acailândia, specifically in the small neighborhood of Piquià. This 3-month experience allowed us to touch the Combonian way of life, to learn Portuguese, and to observe the reality of the various projects in which the Comboni family is involved. These are mainly 3 realities: the casa familiar rural (a school for children from rural areas), the reality of Piquià de Baixo (a community affected by pollution from steel industries), and the interior families living in the countryside, isolated and affected by the world of agribusiness (i.e., deforestation and monoculture of soy and eucalyptus).

The time spent in Piquià was a short time but enough to make us realize that this would be our home for the next 3 years.

The uniqueness of this experience is also the choice to do common life with the Combonis, who live in the house next to ours. Therefore, not only are we included in the parish and engaged in the various pastoral activities but we share with them prayer times, dinners and other moments of daily life, making choices in common. This is the Comboni family, where lay people and Comboni fathers do mission together.





Anna and Gabrielle, CLM in Brazil

Comboni feast


St. Daniel Comboni Parish, in Guriri, Diocese of São Mateus, in the state of Espírito Santo, began the feast of St. Daniel Comboni on Sunday, October 1. The celebration began with the blessing of the image of the patron saint containing the relic of St. Daniel Comboni, followed by a procession from the residence of Bishop Emeritus Aldo Gerna to the parish church. The image of St. Daniel Comboni was carved in wood especially for the first Comboni parish in the world by the sculptor Werner Thaler, from the city of Treze Tílias, in Santa Catarina.

Fr. Raimundo Rocha

Provincial of the Comboni Missionaries of Brazil

GEC IN ACTION: ‘burning hearts, feet on the way’

GEC 2023
GEC 2023

Balsas, in Maranhão, hosted the 2nd Regional Meeting of the Comboni Spirituality Groups, also known as GECs. Representatives of the GECs from Piquiá, Timon, São Luís and Balsas took part in the meeting. Father Raimundo Rocha, provincial of the Comboni Missionaries of Brazil, was also present. The meeting took place at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Formation Center on September 16 and 17.

The Comboni Spirituality Groups, or GECs, are groups of lay men and women who identify with the charism and spirituality of St. Daniel Comboni and who, inspired by that same charism, seek to carry out pastoral, social and mission promotion activities and support the Comboni mission.

The two-day meeting in Balsas provided the GECs with moments of spirituality and missionary formation, togetherness and renewal of their missionary commitment. The participants also joined the parishes of Balsas to celebrate the triduum in memory of Bishop Franco Masserdotti, who died 17 years ago.

There are currently 14 Comboni Spirituality Groups throughout Brazil. In Maranhão, the GECs are present in Balsas, Pastos Bons, Timon, São Luís and Piquiá. Each group meets regularly in its territory and together they hold a regional meeting every two years. This time they met in Balsas. The next meeting will be in July 2025, in Piquiá, in the municipality of Açailândia.

We are counting on the prayers of all of you, through the intercession of St. Daniel Comboni.

Raimundo Rocha, mccj Brasil provincial and the regional meeting team

Comboni Family meets in assembly to plan missionary animation

Familia Comboniana Brasil

From September 7 to 9, the Comboni Family in Brazil gathered at the provincial house of the Comboni Missionaries in São Paulo for an assembly on Missionary Animation and Vocation Promotion, attended by sisters, brothers, priests, Comboni Lay Missionaries and representatives of the Comboni Spirituality Groups (CSGs).

This meeting aims to share the work being carried out by each missionary presence and to review the Plan for Vocation Animation and Accompaniment of the Comboni Family drawn up in 2017, as a way of rearticulating joint action in this post-pandemic context.

The meeting included a formative moment led by Bishop Juarez Albino Destro, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Porto Alegre, who shared about Vocation Animation in today’s context, the map of vocations and where to focus energies and actions.

Based on the insights and inspirations from the training, we reread and revised our plan, followed by the planning of activities until 2024.

It was an important moment of building and reflection as a Comboni family, asking for the inspiration of the Spirit of mission and the intercession of Comboni, raising up new vocations for the Church.

We count on everyone’s prayers for missionary vocations.

Flavio, CLM