From 14 February to 12 March 2019, Vicar General Sr. Josephine D´Sousa SAC, accompanied by me, Sr. Maria Landsberger, held an official Visitation to our communities in the cities of Codó and Timbiras in Maranhão, one of the poor States in the Brazilian Northeast. This mission of German province began in 1980; presently there are 6 Sisters and two novices, all Brazilians.
We were joyfully welcomed at Teresina airport by the superior of the Mission, Sr. Maria Avaní Sousa da Silva, Novice Joliane, and Fr. Diogo SAC. For the first week we visited the Sisters in the small city of Timbiras, where they had beautifully renovated the first mission house, built by the German pioneer Sisters in 1981/2. We have seen their workplaces: schools and health center; we met the Parish priest and saw the communities and chapels where they are pastorally committed. From there we went to pay a visit to the Bishop of Coroatá, Dom Sebastiao Bandeira Coelho, who in great simplicity and fraternity shared his time with us, showing us the Cathedral, invited us for lunch and visited with us a German Sisters´community.
The visitation continued in Codó, a big city, 30 minutes from Timbiras, where three Sisters and two novices live in the parish Santa Terezinha. They are collaborating in two big Pallottine Parishes, both situated at opposite peripheries of the city. The Pallottine Sisters were the pastoral pioneers at these areas, 10 years before the Pallottine priests arrived. Sisters are engaged in the coordination of the parish catechesis, of family ministry and give biblical/liturgical formation in the base communities in the countryside. We witnessed also their work in several social projects – everywhere we were received with much joy and many “abraços”, by children, youth and elderly. The fraternal spirit of collaboration between priests, sisters and engaged lay members of the Union of the Catholic Apostolate is very strong.
After leaving the Sisters´ communities, on March 8, we travelled to Teresina, capital of the State of Piauí (about 2 hours from Codó) to visit the “Pallottine Social Center” where lay collaborators continue the work of the Sisters with vulnerable youth at the periphery. Sr. Avani still accompanies them periodically. In Teresina, as in every one of the Parishes we had visited, we met a group of the Union of the Catholic Apostolate – our Pallottine Family. For our Brazilian Sisters it was a joy to come to know Sr. Josephine D´Sousa. Many people were curious to see an Indian Sister, as there had been a TV- series on India in Brazil, in recent times.
Before returning to Rome, another beautiful experience took place in in Sao Paulo, where we were warmly welcomed by the “Roman” Pallottine Sisters (CSAC). Even the Provincial Superior from Porto Alegre Sr. Sonia Marchiori and Sr. Ines Burin had come from the distant South for this meeting. The Superior from Sao Paulo Province Sr. Salete Cargnin together with Sr. Josélia Giuliani drove us to all of the 5 communities in Sao Paulo. We felt very welcome by all the Sisters. On the following day we had the possibility of a pilgrimage to the marvelous and huge national Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora de Aparecida. There we could participate in the Holy Mass and had time to pray for many intentions.
The visitation was an enriching time for us, and surely for the Sisters too. Sr. Josephine encouraged them to go ahead in their spiritual, community and apostolic commitment. We are very grateful for the engaged life of the Sisters close to the poor population and for their welcoming openness to us.
Sr. Maria Landsberger SAC