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South Atlantic Province : The joy of the visit

S eventMonday, 27 May 2024

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The South Atlantic Province had the grace and joy of a visitation. Rekha, Sandra and Isabelle were with us during the month of September. We were touched that Rekha insisted on maintaining the dates of the Visit, so soon after the grief of her father's death.

As you know, our Province includes two countries, Argentina and Brazil. And it was with Argentina that the visit began. Sandra landed directly in Brasília, but flew the next day to São Paulo to meet Isabelle and travel together to Argentina. They saw the sisters of San Miguel and La Rioja, confirming them in their missions. Then, they returned to Brazil, to visit São Paulo.

After more or less 5,000 kilometers traveled, between comings and goings, they arrived in Brasília, where they met Rekha. The initial program was to visit the community of Brasília, but, before the General Council got there, Covid knocked at our door...

Result: six sisters isolated in their rooms, five of them at home and one in the hospital because, in addition to Covid, she had had a bad fall... Fortunately, the sisters in the infirmary – one of whom is 101 years old – have not been affected by the virus. Three of us resisted until the end: Covid did not reach these three…

But we had to change the schedule of visits, and the sisters of the General Council left to visit the two closest communities, Itapuranga and Itapaci, while the sisters of Brasília came out of their “total enclosure”…

But before they left, we had a very interesting evening. The community of Brasília had prepared an “evening of conversation” so that our three visitors could listen, from people other than ourselves, to some aspects of the reality in which we live. This listening would help them to better understand the challenges we face and the reason for certain criteria of our missions. In addition to the visitors and the three sisters who had braved Covid, we had invited a few members of Assumption Together to this evening, as well as a few friends and neighbors.

The first to speak was Francisco (known as Chico) Botelho, layman, member of the National Commission of Justice and Peace. He told us about the current situation in Brazil from social, economic, political and cultural points of view. He clearly highlighted the problem of social inequality, the poverty of a large part of the population, the challenges for the new government, elected at the end of last year, trying to put the country on a good road after four years of right-wing and far-right measures by the previous government. Then, Father Dário Bossi, Comboni, who works at the CNBB (National Conference of Bishops of Brazil), especially with Social Pastorals, spoke about the Church in Brazil, its pastoral priorities and the difficulties it encounters in its mission of evangelization. Two Sisters then spoke, Sister Valmi Bohn, who works at the CRB (Conference of Religious Men and Women of Brazil) at the national level, and Sister Cláudia Chesin, who presented the challenges of religious life at the Regional level of Brasília, which includes three neighboring dioceses. They spoke about the broad horizon of religious life and its priorities, voted on at the last Elective General Assembly last year, and about the concrete difficulties that religious men and women encounter in certain dioceses where the tone is rather conservative. After all these speeches, there was time for questions, which gave the opportunity for very interesting exchanges.

Once all the communities had been visited, we had some assemblies in Brasília, which is the provincial house. First of all, it was the Assumption Together Assembly. All the groups presented themselves in a lively and original way. There are Assumption Together groups where there are no sisters... These are groups which began with a community which, for various reasons, had to be closed. But the laity, who fell in love with Marie Eugénie, her spirituality and her thoughts, remain faithful to the Assumption... They were present at the Assembly.

Once the lay people had left, it was the turn of the Assembly of Sisters. It was a joyful moment of sharing our life and the experience we had during the visit.

But it was not yet the end of the visit... We had a day of continuous formation, led by Rekha, Sandra and Isabelle: a morning for the sisters over 75 years old, and an afternoon for those under 75… Both groups were very satisfied…

Finally, the last days of the visit were taken up by an expanded CPP, then a normal CPP, and then a day of work between the two councils, the general and the provincial.

The final assessment of the visit was very positive. We feel confirmed in our local projects and happy to have had such good days with our three visitors.

And, obviously, we feel very motivated to embark on the preparation of the next General Chapter.

 

Sister Regina Maria Cavalvanti – Brazil