Comboni Lay Missionaries

Meeting of Spirituality and Methodology with staff and subjects in the newest APAC of the state of Maranhão

APAC Brasil
APAC Brasil

APAC is the Association for the Protection and Assistance of Convicts. This acronym designates teams that adopt a method based on valuing humanity, tied to evangelization, in order to offer to convicted inmates a way to redeem themselves.

From a wider perspective, it also seeks to protect society, promote justice and help the victims.

The main difference between APAC and the average penal system is that in APAC the inmates (here called redeemable) are co-responsible for their redemption and receive spiritual, medical psychological and legal assistance from the community. Security and discipline are tied to the cooperation of the subjects, with the help of the staff, the volunteer and the directors of the institutions, without the presence of police or prison guards.

The FBAC – The Brazilian Fraternity of assistance to inmates – held today November 24 a meeting on spirituality and methodology for staff and subjects of the newest APAC in the state of Maranhão.

The APAC of Bacabal began its activities on July 11 with the arrival of its new subjects, counting on the support of both the redeemable and the staff of the APAC of Pedreiras, MA. We started this course, which is ongoing with great joy and we will soon be able to successfully implement the entire APAC methodology.

We are evaluating this meeting very positively, with the participation of all subjects and staff, and this will facilitate the work ahead in establishing this APAC.

We are grateful to God for this 53rd unit established in Brazil and ask for more prayers for the consolidation of all the APAC already in existence and the creation of new ones, thus giving the opportunity to all recuperating inmates less time outside the law.

APAC Brasil

Let us keep in touch!

Regimar shared this short text about his departure to Ipê

LMC Brasil
LMC Brasil

“It’s time to leave, leave family, friends, work, community, get out of our comfort zone. It is a mixture of happiness and longing. A heartbeat for two reasons, leave our previous life, but in the direction of another, living the mission. You can’t talk much, because you can’t identify your feelings right now, it’s a mix of everyone. However, we are sure of what we want and we trust that everything will go well with God. ” Regimar, LMC Brazil

Mission leads to defending life

LMC Brasil
LMC Brasil

Can the life of common human beings prepare them for mission?

– Yes, when it is accepted, given and shared. This is how the Comboni Lay Missionaries (CLM) including Regimar and Valmir of Balsas, MA understand it.

The latest struggle that Regimar took up was the establishment of a CVV – a Center for the Value of Life, in Balsas.

During a missionary symposium held in Bacabal, MA in October 2018, Regimar for the first time heard about CVV, a center for the prevention of suicides run by professionals from different fields, such as psychologists, social workers, doctors and lawyers. At the time she thought: “This is exactly what Balsas needs now, because it is one of the worst areas of Maranhão for suicides.” In general, the first contact is by telephone, because it allows people to remain anonymous, and a vulnerable and fragile person will feel more protected. To do this, volunteers are needed.

In the months that followed, she faced the challenge of finding available people, because we all have many commitments.

She almost gave up. But she found great strength in her family, because Valmir, her husband, always believed in this cause and supported her.

The next step was motivated by the recurring situation of anguish caused by the large number of suicides. In August 2019 she contacted the deputy mayor and, following a conversation with Fransuíla, a member of council, she organized a public event for September 30 and October 1 attended by Régis, the national expansion coordinator of CVV, who introduced the method of this activity and helped to develop a presence in Balsas.

The date was based on Regimar’s commitments: “Since you are the leader of this project, you cannot miss the implementation meeting,” the municipal authorities told her.

It turns out that the following week, on October 6 to be exact, Regimar celebrated her missioning Mass as a CLM. Together with Valmir, she left for Ipê Amarelo, a neighborhood just outside Contagem, MG on October 23 for their immediate preparation to missionary service, to delve more deeply into themes of spirituality, community life and insertion.

The couple left behind their 22 years old son, Lucas, who being a computer science graduate, has good chances of finding a job quickly and, leaving with Mary, plans to get married

Valmir and Regimar travel in silence, leaving their grown son ready to face life.

To Lucas and Maria, to the two local families and to the communities that shared their journey, they express gratitude, appreciating their support and trust, and count on their prayers.

We, too, must pray for this couple and for their dedication to mission!

LMC Brasil

Fr. Carlos (the couple’s pastor)

The Women, visible sign of the love of God

Grupo manualidades Brasil
Grupo manualidades Brasil

I write today with great joy, remembering that we have already been here in Brazil for nine months. It has been a full experience of growth and of spirituality. Every single day we experience a meeting with the Lord in different marvelous and inexplicable ways that suggest a tender planning on His part. A little at the time we have discovered the longings God was planting in the heart of St. Daniel Comboni. In each one of our days we have discovered Divine Providence and the knowledge that what we are living is nothing but God’s will.

Grupo manualidades Brasil

Much of this has been thanks to my connection with the women through many different activities. At Comboni House I have been meeting them personally. Every Monday about 40 or 45 women come to learn crocheting, paint on cloth, and carry on various activities. Right now, I am teaching them free hand drawing. This started because several of them wanted to do their own drawings in order to paint them on cloth. Earlier in the year, I was not able to recognize them all, but now I already know several by name and have a closer relationship with some of them. It was interesting how it all started, because at the beginning I only had five students in it, and they kept on working even though I had to leave them, because painting needed more help. However, at the end of the semester there was an evaluation and many of them were interested in learning how to draw. It was a great gain, because now I have 24 women who are striving to learn free hand drawing. For me, it is a form of confidence, learning to give each one her proper space, welcoming them each Monday, being mindful of what they need, thus creating an atmosphere of mutual trust, resulting in this desire to be together. Today, I am happy with this little step I have taken. It took time, but now I understand what the missionaries have been saying, namely, that it takes at least one year to get to know the community and, especially, to earn the people’s trust. I am also working with a group of women in Ype Amarelo where we started with three women and now we have seven. We have made candles, engaged in printing activities and we are now starting with embroidering. I was very impressed by the response of the women of St. Hedwig. This group started after an evangelization mission our pastor held to animate the community. Now there are 16 women attending faithfully to learn crocheting. Later on, we will move on to painting and drawing.

The striking thing about these communities is the relationships of friendship that arise among the women and the good it does to their personal development. Many of them suffer with problems related to their children, spouses and work. Alcohol and drugs are very much part of these families’ life and “craftwork” is their space where to feel strong, stop smoking as one of them said, to curb these desires and turn from bad habits to art. These activities also help some of them to earn a little extra income, because what they have is not enough to live on. Certainly, I would love to have something extra to buy material and help them more, because for sure some have the means, but for others it is difficult even to make a little contribution. Now I feel closer to them, and it is easier for me to better understand their decisions, their joys and their sorrows because we live in the same neighborhood, in the same conditions, under the same influences and social problems. I know that, in the midst of all this, there is hope and the smiling faces of these women, enlivened as they rise out of depression, as they find this creativity within themselves and feeling valued and useful, is beyond comparison. Without any doubt, God is present and allows me to know him in this way, in his chosen daughters, the beloved for whom he came into the world.

Grupo manualidades Brasil

These are valiant women fighting against the current, in a society that marginalizes and judges, but where the Lord makes their faces shine with his light.

Mission changes our lives, and it is changing mine making me be more compassionate with those who suffer and making me understand that there is a reason for every decision for better or for worse. It is only necessary to let go of our skin and live under someone else’s in order to share the same feelings, the feelings of Christ.

A warm embrace. Keep on praying for us, that our family life may accomplish God’s will.

Ana Cris, CLM