The Brasília Community comes to share with you a very interesting workshop in which two of our Sisters took part, Raimunda Barbosa Pereira and Regina Maria Cavalacanti, as well as a lay man, na Assumption Together member from La Rioja (Argentina), Óscar Rubén Yampe.
It was a Regional Workshop of the Justice Coalition of Religious (JCoR). We were almost two hundred religious, men and women, and also some lay people, attached to a religious congregation. The workshop members came froom several regions of Brazil and also from some other Latin American countries. The Brazilian Conference of Religious (CRB) was hosting the workshop and celebrating its 70th anniversary. There were also some members representing CLAR (the Latin-American Conference of Religious) and two Sisters from the United States who work at the United Nations . One of them is the JCoR’s General Director, and the other, a member of the Board.
Yes, JCoR is an organization that gives the religious congregations that are its members, access to the United Nations. The UN values JCoR, because religious life has its word to say on several issues : ethics, politics, human development, ecology, justice – really, on everything that touches the human person. It’s true that our missin happens there where we are, in our « little sphere », but our voice can reach the whole world. Surely, Marie Eugénie will be glad to see that her wish of a transformative action becomes stronger and more concrete when we join our hands and our voice with others who share the same dream : a world that is more alligned to what God wishes for all humanity.
The expereince we lived at this workshop was strong and challenging. In fact, there are two facts that mark our times and that are at the root of JCoR : on one side, religious vocations are becoming scarce in several countries, and, on the other, almost everywhere also, political spaces are closing up, becoming less receptive to the social voices , especially those that come from the most poor. The great challenge is then that we need to join others so as to work for the Kingdom. We need to commit ourselves in intercongregational actions in order to become more incisive. We have to join our strength, or rather « our weaknes », as Maria Eugéniue would say, so that the social transformation with which we dream might begin to come true.
We heard very deep sharings during this workshop, that made us almost touch with our hands very painful human situations : violence against women, racism, hunger, lack of employment, homelessness, degrading conditions for workers, the situation of the origibal people of our continent … The Amazon region’s cry was heard during the workshop, since we had among us some represntatives of the indigenous people. There were several moments of sharing expériences lived with marginalized people. We all felt in our hearts JCoR’s great goal : « To foster collaboration among our members – at the UN and throughout the world – in the effort and commitment to tackle the fundamental causes of poverty, violence, destruction of our planet and non-sustainable development ».
At the end of the workshop, we met according to the different Regionals of the Conference so as to plan possible concrete actions in the different realities in which we live. The issue that would link together these different projects would be « social inequalities ». Here in Brasília, we decided to visit three projects that already exist to see where it would be possible to join in intercongregational actions.
One of these visits was at the biggest slum in the whole country, which has a very poetic name ; The Rising Sun… There’s a religious community living there, the Missionaries of Jesus Crucified. They welcomed the visiting group : men and women religious and a lay woman who had been at the JCoR workshop. Raimunda and Regina were in the group. After having talked to the Sisters for a while, getting to know them and their work, the group went to meet the people.
There would be a communitary lunch on that day, a Saturday. This happens every two weeks. A group of volunteers from The Risen Sun people prepare the meal with donations that have been received. The families come with pots and pans to take the food to their homes. We had our meal with the cooks that had prepared it, at the house that belongs to the Workers for Justice Movement. They lend the kitchen for the community lunch.
Whoever has been in a slum knows that it is a deprived place. Some slums are even more deprived than others. The Risen Sun population is always growing because of the big number of people that come to the country’s capital hoping to find better living conditions there… It’s a place where one easily sees the failure of the local government : there are no schools, nor hospitals, public transport is not sufficient, and bad, etc…
But there is creativity among the people. And generosity as well… We visited a small room, whose owner has offered it for the Sisters’ projects. Theey have organized there an educative space, with adult literacy classes, and extra classes for children and teens who might be slow at school. They also have computer classes there. The Sisters have found space for some sewing machines, on which several women make purses, which they sell.
There will be other visits, so that we might find projects or actions in which our congregations might join. Its perhaps a little « ant’s work », but an ant colony can make a wall come down… May we make come down, or at least shake, the « wall » of social inequalities…