Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate
Cel Celeebration of 50 Years of Ministry in Brazil December 2013
Contents page # Letter sent to the Congregation ______________________________________ 4 Email messages sent to the US by Sr. Dolores Zemont_____________________ 5—12 Reflection from Sr. Ruth Ann Berry given at Mass in Santa Helena _____________ 13 Reflection from Sr. Dolores given at Mass in Santa Helena ___________________ 14 Final Correspondence from Sr. Dolores Zemont __________________________ 15 Reflections from those who traveled to Brazil _________________________ 16—26 Reflections from those Sisters who minister in Brazil ___________________ 27—30 Photos: “Life in Brazil” _________________________________________ 31—36 Donation to Children’s Center ______________________________________ 37 Photos: Enjoying a meal together in Santa Helena _________________________ 38 Photos: North and South Unite, Bonding Moments ________________________ 39 Talk given by a parishioner: Santo Antônio da Barra, Goiás ________________ 40—41
Letter sent to the Congregation
November 25, 2013
Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate
w w w.
jolietfranciscans. o r g
November 25, 2013 Dear Sisters and Associates: The big day of celebration in Santa Helena de Goiás, celebrating our 50 years on South American soil, is approaching. On December 15, 17 North American Sisters and one Associate will join our Sisters in Brazil and the people of Santa Helena in thanking God for 50 years of ministry among God’s people. The Mass will take place at 5 a.m. Joliet time, so if you are an early riser, please join them in prayer. The Sisters and Associate who are traveling to Brazil and their travel dates are: December 5-18 Dolores Zemont December 6-13 Albert Marie Papesh December 6-18 Anne Tietyen December 6-January 7 Anna Konrath Teresinha Del’Acqua December 8-18 Barbara Kwiatkowski Peggy Quinn Jane Nienaber Rosemary Fonck Lois Prebil Sandi Salois Kathy Salewski Therese Tusek Mary Jean Morris Vivian Whitehead Odelia Kloc December 11-23 Jeanne Bessette Mary Jo Young Please pray for safety in travel for all of those traveling. For those who will be celebrating in North America in spirit and in prayer, the enclosed novena has been prepared for you by Sister Meg Guider. Peace and all good,
Sister Dolores Zemont President
Sister Teresinha M. Del’Acqua Councilor for the Mission
Sister Clarita Schumacher Vice President/Councilor for the Membership
Sister Lourdes Boyer General Secretary
Sister Peggy Quinn Councilor for Franciscan Spirituality
Sister MJ Griﬃn General Treasurer
Sister Dolores Zemont
sent Saturday, December 7, 2013
December 7, 2013 Dear Sisters and Associates: I write to you from Goiânia, Brazil where it is a bit warm. It seems strange to see Christmas decorations in the sun and heat rather than the cold and snow of the Midwest. I arrived yesterday at 7 p.m., but should have arrived at 2:15. There were huge problems in the airport in Brasilia. Today, Albert Marie, Teresinha, Anna and Anne Tietyen arrived late, having experienced some of the same issues. Fortunately I was sent angels of mercy in the form of a young couple who spoke English and took me under their wing. Without understanding Portuguese, I would have been totally lost. I spent almost 10 hours in the airport in Brasilia. Today’s group has a similar story with variations on the theme. Fortunately, they had Teresinha! The important thing is we all arrived safely!
Celebrating Christmas in Brazil with plastic bottles as decorations: They don’t melt!!
Tomorrow, Rita arrives from the Amazon and Anne Tietyen, Anna, Teresinha, Albert and I will be going to Brasilia (by car!) to see the place where Anna was stationed when she was here in the ‘60s. Everyone is excitedly awaiting the arrival of the rest of the North Americans. Next group arrives Monday. I will try to write each day so that you can experience this celebration vicariously. Albert Marie is our “oﬃcial photographer” so we hope to come home with good pictures.
Sister Dolores Zemont
The first group . . .
sent Sunday , December 8, 2013
Enjoying pão de queijo!! The first group of North American Sisters arrive in Brazil and have a treat with the South American Sisters. Standing L to R: Sisters Jeronima Marques da Costa, Ana Claudia Pontes Rezende, Maria Diniz Gomes, Izabel Lopes dos Santos, pre-novice Rosa Ribeiro Dinis, Sister Teresinha Mendonça Del'Acqua and Associate Anne Tietyen Sitting L to R: Sisters Albert Marie Papesh, Anna Konrath, Margaret Noser, Luzia Aparecida Daniel, Dolores Zemont and Ruth Ann Berry
Sister Dolores Zemont
sent Monday, December 9, 2013
December 9, 2013 Dear Sisters and Associates: Yesterday at 7a.m., Anne Tietyen, Albert Marie, Teresinha and I began a 3 hour drive to Brasilia to the place where Anne had helped to open our mission in Cruziero in 1966. She had not been back since 1971. Teresinha arrived there in 1974 and helped to close the mission in 1980. So you see this place was very important to both of them. We went to the Church, Nossa Senhora das Dores (Our Lady of Sorrows). It is their third Church. We were there for Mass on our feast day. The priest announced our presence and the Congregation welcomed us. Of particular significance was the statue of Mary in the sanctuary for Mass. It was the same statue that had been there when Anne and Teresinha served the area. Needless to say, they were a bit emotional at the reality of not only the statue, but the memories that took them back to many years ago.
We went out for a celebratory Feast day lunch, toasted the Congregation with glasses of Guarana and Teresinha took us on a tour which included the Cathedral. It is most unique and magnificent. We don’t want you to think that we were too holy… Teresinha took us to the “hippie fair” to shop. It was quite a day of laughter and tears, memories and new experiences. We arrived back home tired but happy at 10:30 p.m. and welcomed Rita who arrived from the Amazon. WHAT A DAY!!! More later….. DZ
Sister Dolores Zemont
sent Tuesday, December 11, 2013
December 10, 2013 Dear Sisters and Associates: All have arrived except Jeanne and Mary Jo who will arrive in a few days. Two Irmã Maria das Merces groups arrived yesterday – Mary Jean, Rosemary Fonck, Terri Tusek, Sandi Alves Barbosa (far right) and her youth group Salois and Kathy Salewski first, followed later by Vivian, Peggy, Odelia, Barb, Jane and Lois. They were welcomed to San Damiano with a pizza party and all departed to sleep. We called Meg during dinner to thank her for all her work making travel arrangements to get us all here! Today, we stopped to see the convent in Hidrolândia and then went to the Capuchin Seminary grounds for a relaxing day of eating, playing games, visiting and just plain “hanging out.” The “down time” was much appreciated, especially for those who just arrived yesterday. Maria’s little youth group came and shared a song and dance, which they choreographed themselves! It was a good day with food, food, and more food. More tomorrow…DZ
Sister Dolores Zemont
sent Thursday, December 12, 2013
December 12, 2013 Dear Sisters and Associates: We are a day late and a dollar short. Seriously, we are late because we have been very busy. Yesterday we went to visit Fr. Sean at St. Joseph Church where Corine had been until she died in 2007. A beautiful church with beautiful murals, frescoes and stations of the cross. Fr Sean has been here since 1962 and is from the Camden Diocese. He is a wonderful man who has done so much for the people. We then went to the cemetery to visit Corine’s grave. Fr. Sean and Irmã Ruth After another delicious dinner, we left on the bus for Trinidade, which is the pilgrimage center of Goiás. The Divine Eternal Father is the name of the Irmã Corine’s grave shrine. The statue in the church is the Trinity, crowning Mary. It was very hot there, although our weather in Goiânia has been milder. We left and drove into the pouring rain, flooded streets and rushed into the Centerhouse in time for the graduation program for the first graders of San Damiano private school, along with a full Christmas program. It lasted 2 hours. This morning there was a special school choral and band program, just for us, with the school. We got to hear the students playing the instruments that the Peace and Justice fund helped finance. They were excellent!!! Dinner is soon, after which we leave for Santa Helena to begin 3 days of celebration. We will be with you tomorrow in spirit for Rita Greene’s funeral.
San Damiano School Band
More later… DZ
Note: Irmã Dina in left bench 7
Sister Dolores Zemont
sent Friday, December 13, 2013
Friday, December 13, 2013 Dear Sisters and Associates: Yesterday’s trip to Santa Helena by bus took almost 4 hours. The road is good since they now have a highway rather than dirt road most of the way. We arrived tired, but everyone was anxious to see the place where we began. After a supper of pizza, those of us who were staying in the homes of people in the parish were picked up and we were oﬀ to a good night’s sleep, This morning, we went to the Children’s Home (a day care center) which was delightful. They have about 127 children, ages 6 months, 3, 4 and 5, with 27 staﬀ members. It is partly funded by the city and partly by the Church. The parents do not have to pay – they cannot aﬀord to pay. They put on a little program for us. The 5 year olds put on a little play about the nativity which was darling. (see the pictures). The 4 year olds (the ones dressed in red) sang a song. The 3 year olds sat very still for a very long time, blew kisses and were just darling. When they finished, we sang the Blessing of Clare and their coordinator translated. They applauded and one of them extended his hand in blessing. With some money that a friend of Meg’s donated, Teresinha will be buying a DVD player and DVDs for them. On behalf of the Congregation , we gave a donation to help with the purchase. Sr. Sandi with young The Children’s Home has a plaque (see boy at the Children’s picture) honoring Sister Gloria who was the Center coordinator of the home for many years, was a great administrator and much loved. Sister Grace Brouch was the first of our Sisters to work there. Grave of Irmã Johanna
Next we went to the cemetery to visit the graves of Sisters Gloria and Johanna, as well as the parents of Teresinha and Diniz’s father. That was the older cemetery. We will soon be oﬀ to Maurilândia for 7 p.m. Mass. We will remember Rita Greene and all of you.
Grave of Irmã Gloria
More later…DZ 8
Sister Dolores Zemont
sent Saturday, December 14, 2013
Dear Sisters and Associates: Our celebration at Maurilândia yesterday (Friday, December 13) was good. At the Mass, the priest really honored us in the homily and then called us up at the end. Several Sisters spoke, after which we sang the blessing of St. Clare. The banners that you see in the church were made by Grace Brouch when she was there. After the Mass there was a reception in the parish hall with lots of food and a fantastic white chocolate cake. The priest was so animated and taken with us that he followed us on the bus to give us a blessing. We were able to see Ana Claudia’s grandmother along with the others on the picture. Arrived home late and tired and everyone went to their homes.
Church at Maurilândia The banners were made by Sr. Grace Brouch
Sister Dolores Zemont
Today we visited the nursing home where they have 20 residents and 21 staﬀ. They need that many because when someone goes to the hospital they have to stay with them the whole time. It is very poor. When they were eating, they oﬀered to share what they had on their plates with us. That touched us deeply. Their desire for company exists so strongly because they have no one. One man thanked us for visiting him.
Godparents, Irmã Ana Claudia, and Grandmother sent Saturday, December 14, 2013
Sisters and Collaborators
We returned to the parish center for a wonderful “festive” dinner with the collaborators (Associates) of Santa Helena, followed by BINGO with prizes! Irmã Luzia in deep meditation –worn out from the day
Oﬀ to St. Antonio tonight for Mass and celebration.
Sr. Therese in one of the rooms at the Nursing Home
More later…DZ 9
Sister Dolores Zemont
sent Sunday, December 15, 2013
Dear Sisters and Associates: It is diﬃcult to capture the activities and spirit of the past few days in an email, but I will give you some thoughts and more will follow in the January mailing. On Saturday evening, we gathered at Santo Antonio da Barra for a 7 p.m. Mass with the Bishop. It is a simple but beautiful community. As you can see from the pictures, the outside of the church was filled with Christmas lights. At the Mass at oﬀertory, they processed in with a card for every pastoral that our Sisters helped to develop over the 8 Church at San Antonio years we were there. They called all the Sisters who had worked in the parish, Sisters Margaret, Ruth and me to the front of the altar and acknowledged all that the Sisters had done, but also their influence over those 8 years. They then presented a plaque which Jeronima received, recognizing our years of service. A reception followed with Brazilian snacks and a delicious cake – they sure can bake! On Sunday morning was the big celebration in Santa Helena where Bishop Jose Luiz Majella Delgado (who is a Redemptorist) was once again the celebrant. The Church was filled, with people standing in the back and sides. There were several Sisters of St. Joseph from Rochester and a Sister of the Atonement (who was a close friend of Pauline’s) and a Sister who had been a Sister of St. Francis of St. Joseph but is now in a Brazilian Congregation, in attendance. Cida Teles coordinated the Mass. Translation: Peace and all good! We thank the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate for being a part of our community, where they dedicated a part of their lives to us and have given us an example we can follow. Surely you are precious jewelry which God gave us for our journey, and we will keep you in our prayers. Thank you for everything!
Plaque expressing the gratitude of the people of San Antonio for the work of the Sisters
St. Anthony of Padua Parish St. Anthony of the Border 12-14-2013
Several of us were in the entrance procession carrying symbols. • Statue of Mother Alfred – Peggy Quinn • Picture of Mother Borromeo – Margaret Noser Several of us were in the oﬀertory procession • Loaf of bread – Vivian • Grapes – Rosa Maria • Third order rule – Mary Jean • Constitutions – DZ • Tau cross with a replica of our pin – Anne Tietyen • Hosts – Albert Marie • Water and wine – Rosemary Fonck
The entrance procession at the Mass in Santa Helena on Sunday, December 15, 2013.
Jeanne and Barbara joined their choir for two songs – Jeanne played guitar and Barbara sang. Ruth spoke at the beginning of Mass, giving some of our history in Brazil and someone from the parish spoke. At the end of the Mass, DZ spoke and Margaret translated. You will receive copies of these presentations. Maria de Merces brought The Word up before the readings, with a lovely dance. Behind her were 4 children dressed as Franciscans. Teresinha did the second reading. Following the Mass was a huge dinner in their outdoor gym where 800 people attended! The previous day, Jeronima picked up the boi (2 cows) that had been butchered for our meal. We also had chicken, rice and beans and salad with ice cream for dessert – for 800 people! It was a magnificent celebration and these are only the bare facts. More of this experience will be sent out in January. This is just to give you a taste of what has been. Everyone but Jeanne, Mary Jo, Teresinha, Anna and DZ are leaving tomorrow. DZ leaves Wednesday, Jeanne and Mary Jo leave December 22, and Teresinha and Anna on January 7 (or maybe the 6th). Pray for safe travels, on-time planes and good weather!
Irmã Maria das Mercês bringing The Word up before the readings, with a lovely dance. Behind her were 4 children dressed as Franciscans.
Eight hundred people attended the Brazilian churrasco Sr. Jeanne Bessette played guitar.
Sr. Barbara Kwiatkowski sang.
after the Mass.
Kneeling: Sr. Albert Marie Papesh and Associate Anne Tietyen Standing—Left to right: Sisters Vivian Whitehead, Jane Nienaber, Therese Tusek, Rosemary Fonck, Lois Prebil, Peggy Quinn, Dolores Zemont, Fr. Sean, Sisters Sandra Salois, Barbara Kwiatkowski, Mary Jean Morris, Teresinha M. Del’Acqua and Ruth Berry
Our Newest Members in Brazil: Irmã Beatriz, Irmã Maria, and Rosa Dinís, pre-novice 12
Irmã Ruth Berry, Regional Secretary, Brazil
A bit of our history. . . given by Sr. Ruth at the beginning of the Mass in Santa Helena It was in 1962 that Pope John XXIII made an appeal for Priests and Religious from all of North America to serve in Latin America. Our General Superior, Mother Borromeo, accepted the invitation and asked for volunteers from among all of our Sisters for this mission. While the Sisters prayed and reflected, the Franciscan priests invited us to work with them in Santarem [Brazil], the Carmelite priests invited us to work in Peru and Bishop Benedict Coscia through Bishop Celestine Damiano of Camden, New Jersey, invited us to work with his priests in Santa Helena de Goiás. After visiting these places, Mother Borromeo, together with her council, chose Santa Helena as our mission. Today there is still one priest from Camden in Brazil, Mons. Sean Daiber who is working in Goiânia since 1969. Many of the young priests of the Diocese of Jataí studied with him while in the seminary. We, the first four Sisters arrived in 1963, and studied the language, history, geography and customs of Brazil in Petrópolis. Father Francis Bray, who is present here, and Father James Menelli, who serves in Jataí, were our classmates. We arrived in Santa Helena on December 18, the death anniversary of our foundress, Mother Alfred Moes. There was a beautiful reception for us on the porch with the presence of religious and civil authorities. On that day dinner was served for everyone in the back yard of Sister Teresinha’s uncle. Despite all of the diﬃculties with the language, we began teaching in March of 1964. The other teachers, the people and the children helped us so much especially during that first year. One of the teachers, Ana Aguiar, lived with us and her son is here today. We came because of the invitation we received for this mission in Brazil. We were welcomed and supported by all of you and it is because of you that we remained. And it is to express our gratitude that we are here today with 18 of our Sisters from the United States to celebrate and give thanks for this great grace of the Lord. We came to give and to serve but we received much more than we could ever give, through the support, love and generosity of all of you.
Reflection at Santa Helena:
Sister Dolores Zemont
. . . given by Sr. DZ at the 50th Celebration Mass in Santa Helena On behalf of the 153 Sisters of St. Francis, and our Associates, I bring you greetings and love from North America. Fifty years in the history of the world is just a speck – not even a tiny dot...but in a relationship, 50 years is a very long time. And in the lives of the people of Santa Helena and all the places where our Sisters have ministered, 50 years is very significant. A reverend mother, Mother Borromeo, had a dream, and following the invitation of the Pope, sent 4 courageous women who arrived here in 1963. This decision has made a huge diﬀerence in the church, in your lives and the lives of the sisters in North America. Four Sisters began, many followed – some for a short time – others like Sister Ruth, Sister Johanna, Sister Margaret, for many years – some came to visit and left a piece of their heart here with you. Brazilian women, encouraged and drawn by their lives, joined us and now there are 19 Sisters in ministry here in Brazil – 17 of them are Brazilian. The lives of the Sisters here, and those of us who have visited, have stretched those of us who live and minister in North America to live more simply, to be more aware globally, especially of the poor and those who struggle in their daily lives. Whenever the Brazilian Sisters come to us in Joliet for meetings, they are an inspiration to us for all that they do and all that they are. They bring the spirit of the people of Brazil, YOUR spirit, to us. It was important for 18 of us to come to Brazil and join you in celebrating this great event, especially to show our love and support for you, the people of Santa Helena, who were the first to welcome us into your lives. You welcomed four Sisters, who
couldn`t speak your language, with open arms and warm hearts and it is because of you that the Lord was able to work through us. Your love and acceptance of us, your faith and willingness to journey with us each day in the joys and sorrows of life, made our mission what it is today. This is a journey of mutuality, of serving our God, together. You are the reason for our Sisters’ presence and you, the people of God, here in Santa Helena, have made all the diﬀerence. Had you not received us into your hearts, your homes, your church, nothing would have happened. But our ministry here grew to other places in other areas of Brazil. We have great reasons to be thankful to the Lord today – for 50 years of our presence here, for the vocations of Brazilian Sisters who joined us, for the Brazilian lay Associates, 13 of whom are here in Santa Helena, and the presence of the Lord each day in our midst. Like St. Francis, who recognized that one can never stop in satisfaction for what has been, I oﬀer the words of St. Francis who said, “Let us begin – because up to now we have done nothing.” Let us never stop, because God’s grace and call to more is always there. I am convinced that the best is yet to be. So, let us begin our next 50 years – together . . . 14
Sister Dolores Zemont
sent Monday, December 16, 2013
The first group leaving
and the rest . . . Message from:
Sister Dolores Zemont
sent Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Dear Sisters and Associates: Everyone has left today except Jeanne and Mary Jo who will leave on 12/22, Teresinha and Anna who will leave on 1/7 and me – I am leaving tomorrow. Let’s all hope and pray for uneventful trips for the two groups on their way, and for me, tomorrow. It has been wonderful! More in the January mailing… Signing oﬀ...DZ
Sister Dolores Zemont
sent Wednesday, December 18, 2013
December 18, 2013 Dear Sisters and Associates: Both groups arrived home from Brazil safe and sound. I leave in 4 hours and arrive tomorrow morning. DZ 15
Sister Peggy Quinn, Councilor for Franciscan Spirituality
Brazil The 10 days in Brazil and the time getting there and back was filled with sights and sounds, challenges and gift. My heart is filled with music, language, tastes and sights. The time was filled with cultural richness and sharing of customs; learning how things are done in another part of our world is good. And while all that was gift, I was most touched by the people celebrating our Sisters and our history in Santa Helena, Maurilândia and Santo Antônio da Barra, the three places we celebrated Mass and had receptions with those who were touched by our Sisters’ presence among them. It was so heart warming to see the hugs and smiles and expressions of gratitude toward our Sisters. The performances prepared for us in our school in San Damiano, at our barbeque and picnic in Hidrolândia, two performances in Santa Helena, and the game San Damiano School Band prepared by the collaborators (Associates) were great fun and a wonderful surprise. Seeing the band in our school perform with some of the instruments bought with JPIC Grant money was a treat.
Sister Teresinha Mendonça Del ‘Acqua, Councilor for the Mission
Reflection about Brazil Celebration The Celebration of the 50 years of our Congregation’s presence in Brazil is a precious and enlightening treasure for me. Once again, it has been an energizing opportunity to delve deep down into the living missionary spirit and legacy of Jesus the Christ, St. Francis of Assisi and Mother Alfred Moes. It is a special blessing to have my heart and my whole being renewed and burn with the same original missionary vigor. Irmã Teresinha was able to spend some quality time with her brother João
As a witness and traveling companion on our Journeying among, with and for the People of God, in a Brazilian culture and now in the United States, I can contemplate the unfolding Gospel Commitment and the ministry of presence expressed in diﬀerent places and manners through the years. With the blessed Mary, joyfully and gratefully I praise God: my soul and entire being rejoice because God, in His infinite love is doing many beautiful things to us and through us for his people! May this celebration warm up our hope and strengthen our experience that our Congregational Franciscan Charisma is alive and is a Gospel Answer for any human struggle and challenge, everywhere in each situation where the human being and nature are crying for life and respect. 16
Reflection from: In Gratitude
Sister Rosemary Fonck “Jesus is the Eternal Word of the Father, spoken to us in love. Through His grace, we, the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate, respond in love….” ( Constitutions #1) And so we did join together with Sisters and Associates in a beautiful, friendly place, so evident that the presence of Jesus circled through all our sharings. Whether we spoke in Portuguese, English or some homemade combination of both languages, each activity – the praying and the singing, the sharing of stories or the laughing together, the playing of games or visiting various sites, there was a feeling of love and excitement. I have on my previous visits and on this special occasion felt a wonderful spirit of grace and an opportunity to renew friendships and be in the presence of so many wonderful people. Being with our Sisters, our Associates, other religious who share life with our Sisters, the people who hosted us in their homes, some family members of our Sisters, the people who serve us in the convent in Goiânia were all truly gift. I thank God and our Congregation for making this prayerful, joyous experience a reality. Obrigada.
Sisters Kathy and Rosemary view pictures at the church in Trindade. Associate Anne Tietyen and Sr. Rosemary take some time to relax.
Sister Mary jean Morris
Memories of the 50th in Brazil My first trip to Brazil was in1992, just a few months after our Administration took oďŹƒce. I visited Brazil each year after that during my eight years of ministering as Congregation President. Each visit brought new experiences and adventures. New missions were added, some were brought to completion. New candidates were welcomed among us. An Associate Program was begun. This recent celebration of a ministry of 50 years was a time of witnessing fruition. It was a time of experiencing our younger members assuming new roles of leadership. There was an obvious spirit of ownership and of recognizing the giftedness of one another. The celebration at the founding mission of Santa Helena gathered close to 1000 people to give thanks for the work of our Sisters. A great delight for me was the evening we gathered at the church of San Antonio de Barra. I had visited that parish in its beginning months of 1998 when Sister Jeronima da Costa was there to be with the people and to help the Faith of the people to deepen. Our Sisters had been there for only a few years before they were called to other places in Brazil. We were invited to celebrate the 50th anniversary with them. When our bus pulled up to the plaza in front of the church, there was a crowd of people engaged in conversation with one another. As our Sisters got oďŹ€ the bus the people of the parish came forward to greet them very warmly. The bishop arrived to be part of the celebration and stayed to mingle with the group. The liturgical celebration began as the entrance procession made its way up the center aisle. It was wonderful to see how the liturgical skills of the group had matured from the early foundation. Representatives from various ministries presented placards of the extent of the active works of the parish. The choir was well rehearsed. The Scriptures were solemnly presented and proclaimed. Both the pastor and the bishop spoke highly of the involvement of the Sisters in the growth of San Antonio de Barra. The evening concluded with all enjoying various appetizers popular in Brazil followed by sharing a very large and beautiful cake. My heart was thankful for this experience at San Antonio da Barra and for all the wonderful ways our Sisters have planted seeds of pastoral growth that continue to flourish.
Ministries begun by our Sisters and which still continue today.
Sister Vivian Whitehead
50 years...for all that has been! THANKS...for all that is to come. YES!!!! My love aﬀair with our Brazilian mission began 41 years ago. In 1972, as Councilor for Mission, I had the opportunity to spend quality time in Brazil. Over the years I have returned to Brazil seven more times. I am blessed. As I reflect on this journey for Jubilee 50, I want to share two reflections from the many in my heart. I have seen Brazil roads change from red soil dangerous rugged roads to asphalt highways. More significantly, I have seen young Brazilian girls mature into confident generous Franciscan religious women. Jubilee 50 again demonstrated how the people of Brazil have been touched deeply by the love and dedication of our Sisters. Our Sisters have inspired and directed an entire generation of lay leaders for the church. How amazing! I also reflect on a young American Sister who came to Brazil 50 years ago. Our sister Ruth Ann had a dream! —a vision of a Brazilian Franciscan community. Her dream has become a reality in many ways. She is a gentle-strong leader who has inspired and loved our Brazilian community. For her, I remain ever in awe and gratitude. 50 years...for all that has been! THANKS...for all that is to come. YES!!!! Four Presidents sharing stories of Brazil visits: Sisters Dolores Zemont, Mary Jean Morris, Vivian Whitehead and Rosemary Fonck
This sunflower painting by Sister Diniz demonstrates to me her outstanding… hidden talent… and it speaks to me of our Brazilian community. As the sunflower that spends its day bending and turning to follow the sun, so our Brazilian community tries to follow the inspiration of the Spirit wherever and whatever that may be.
Sister Vivian enjoys a conversation with Sr. Sandi .
Thank you again for arranging for the “old mothers” to share the celebration.
Sister Odelia Kloc
Reflection on My Visit to Brazil What I enjoyed most about my time in Brazil was getting to know the newer Sisters, Beatriz, Maria das Mercês and Rosa Ribeiro Dinis. I was very impressed with the way our Sisters were received at the parishes in Maurilândia and Santo Antônio da Barra, even though we were no longer present there. You could feel the deep love the people had for the Sisters who had served there. We were warmly welcomed by the Bishop of Jataí and by the priests in the other parishes we visited. The homilies given by the Bishop were deeply spiritual and he smiled whenever he talked. I am most grateful for this opportunity to revisit Brazil and am very appreciative of the warm hospitality extended to us by our Sisters and the people of Santa Helena.
Sister Albert Marie Papesh
Reflection . . . Brazil Celebration How does one describe the gifts of reunion, celebration and joy experienced during those “Golden Anniversary Days” spent with our Irmãs in Brazil, the people whom they are serving, and with the many they have served! How could my heart not be filled with gratitude and pride, and be humbled as I witnessed such expressions of love, appreciation and respect for the Irmãs Franciscanas throughout those days of celebration! I thank God for the blessings of those 50 years, especially for the women called to serve in Brazil, and for the diversity of missions and ministry within our North/South American Congregation. Experiencing such times together strengthens our bond of knowing we are one and uphold each other as we journey . . . wherever . . . responding to Jesus’ prayer, “That ALL may be one . . .”
Sister Anna Konrath
Reflection I have had the privilege to travel to Brazil three times in my lifetime. This past trip from December 6, 2013—January 7, 2014, was connected to the 50th anniversary of the Congregation’s mission in Brazil. The celebration consisted of many wonderful experiences; however, one of the most memorable for me was the commissioning ceremony of our Brazilian Sisters held at the seminary. The ceremony began with Mass honoring the two Jubilarians, Irmã Rita Cristina Lima dos Santos, 15 years, and Irmã Lucia Martins Ferreira, 25 years. At the time of Consecration at the Mass, both Jubilarians were called to the altar to be recognized and to renew their vows. To my surprise, I was asked to represent the Jubilarians of the United States since I had celebrated my 60th Jubilee in June. It was an honor. Following the Mass was a festive dinner. After dinner we all gathered in the seminary assembly hall to share in a pilgrimage, comprised of the seven “stations” representing the seven missions where the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate minister. Each Sister living at the respective mission spoke of her experiences that year. • • • • • • •
Santa Helena — the first parish in the area where our Sisters worked and lived. In its beginning, it was very primitive. San Damiano — the Brazian Centerhouse and place of welcome for guests provides paramount hospitality. Pre-Novitiate — where the seeds of Franciscanism and mission are sown in much diversity. Hidrolândia — being among the very poor, truly missionaries at their best Tocantins — Irmã Debora de Castro—reflection given on Jesus . . . the prop used was a mirror—seeing Jesus in ourselves Manaus — Amazon Territory — Irmã Rita Cristina Lima dos Santos—tribal people having their own language The Commissioning station where Irmã Margaret Noser, Regional Coordinator, commissioned each Sister for the coming year
Another experience I want to share is the process or method for distributing Christmas gifts. There were 20 envelopes containing a diﬀerent virtue on the front of each envelope and the name of a Sister on the back of the envelope. Taking their turn, each person chose an envelope. If the name on the envelope was not hers, she gave the envelope to the person whose name was on the respective envelope. To my surprise, I was included in the exchange of envelopes. I picked “Contemplation” which had Irmã Ruth Berry’s name on it. Each envelope contained a Christmas message and a monetary gift. This was very touching since this was my first gift of 2014. After all the envelopes were opened, I handed out wrapped gifts of assorted chocolates weighing approximately 2 pounds each which I brought from the United States. If you guessed M&Ms, you were right! I am grateful to have had, and will never forget, this experience of celebrating the 50th anniversary of our Sisters in Brazil. 21
Sister Jane Nienaber
What a gift it is: ∗ to visit and be with the twenty Sisters in Brazil ∗ to be witness to the love and appreciation of the people of Brazil for the ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗
Sisters’ ministry to see the places which I’ve heard so much about to experience the culture of Brazil to celebrate 50 years of Franciscan presence to enjoy 85 degree plus weather during the month of December
My journey to Brazil began with the blessing of being a part of a lottery which made it possible for me to go to Brazil. The assistance we had in obtaining our airline tickets, the preparations which we received in obtaining a visa and helpful hints from those who previously made the trip supported my excitement and anticipation. Prepared with passport, vaccinations and bags packed, along with others, I flew from the cold weather of Illinois and arrived in sunny Goiânia the next day. The gracious and warm hospitality of the Sisters of Brazil was the highlight of my visit. Obviously, much preparation was made for our coming and while being there, there was so much loving presence of each. They radiated the feeling that all was possible in making this stay enjoyable. I was touched by the eﬀectiveness of the Sisters in their ministries, displayed and expressed during visits and at the Jubilee celebration on December 15. We were entertained by pageantry, singing, a children’s band and dancing. In a country of swaying palm trees, sugar cane and soybean fields, we were welcomed by the people with whom the Sisters minister. Being with the Sisters of Brazil, celebrating fifty years of Franciscan presence, sharing this journey with Sisters of USA and the enthusiasm of all who stayed home continue to bring joy, gratitude and pride in being a Joliet Franciscan. What a gift to receive during this Christmas time!
Sisters Sandi Salois and Jane Nienaber
Sister Lois Prebil
Brazil Experience - December, 2013 After a few days in Goiânia, someone asked me what my impressions were and what was most surprising to me. Of our group of 18 who went from the U.S. to the 50th anniversary celebration, I was one of four going there for the first time. Iʹve heard and read stories all through the years and met most of the Brazilian Sisters at Chapters, but this experience made everything so much more real. Some experiences I reflect on now are: • Sisters expressing their welcome and delight that we were there • Laughing together even with so few words • Attending the first grade graduation at San Damiano - significant because up to 1st grade itʹs a private school sponsored by our Sisters • Seeing the homes, neighborhoods, churches, skyscrapers, trees, vegetation, huge ant hills, sugar cane, Brahman cows, market, some familiar businesses • Learning about the deep spirituality of the people that matched the warmth of their culture • Being deeply concerned for our Sister who was suﬀering from a bite she got while ministering in the Amazon • Enjoying the food and drink • Getting a ʺgroup hugʺ from little kids at the Childrenʹs Home • Experiencing the genuine warmth of all the people • Going to Santa Helena where the mission was started, knowing itʹs diﬀerent there because of our Sisters • Being with a local family overnight in Santa Helena & playing games until 1 a.m. • Singing the blessing of Clare at the graves of Corine, Johanna and Gloria • At the anniversary celebration liturgies, feeling a deep pride and appreciation for all the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate (Brazilian and U.S.) who have ever shared in John XXIIIʹs call to Brazil Most of all, I reflect on the opportunity to be with our Sisters and see where they live and where they ministered. Much of our communication was hampered by my not knowing more than a few words in Portuguese. ʺObrigadaʺ (thank you) went a long way. And I say OBRIGADA now! During the few days after I got home, the sounds of the language and images of this experience were often in my head. I thought it was part of jet lag. I think my life slowed down a bit. There is little opportunity for a longer conversation about this whole event. Except for talking with those who were there too, it usually boils down to ʺHow was Brazil?ʺ And my responding, ʺIt was great!ʺ The photos are visual reminders; my heart savors the experience.
Sister Lois Prebil with snowmen made from plastic bottles! (Santa Helena)
Sister Kathy Salewski
Sacred Journey Recognizing our pilgrim status, we cling neither to persons nor to things, neither to places nor to positions. Constitutions #35 In Pilgrim’s Companion to Franciscan Places, pilgrims are described as persons who perceive an internal dimension to the journey; persons who invest themselves; persons who know the journey will aﬀect them; persons placing importance on both the journey and the arrival; and persons who form a community. P7 Our recent trip to Brazil was indeed a pilgrimage in the sense of our Constitutions and the Pilgrim’s Companion. We, North Americans and Brazilians, did a lot of traveling during those days and we did it by bus. What a place to form Community! Watching women from the two countries, speaking diﬀerent languages, sitting with and enjoying each other is still seed for reflection. Not only did we enjoy each other, we cared for each other and showed it — a hand on the stairs, passing out water, retrieving a forgotten item, letting a seat mate rest instead of talking. Yes these are little things, but isnʹt that what life is all about? In Santa Helena, most of us stayed with Associates, friends and families of our Sisters. For me, this was a humbling and awesome experience. I stayed with Graceli Bezerra and her husband, Vincenti. Most of our hosts picked us up in the evening and brought us back to the Convent in the morning. I am sure this put a strain on their normal family lives but they appeared to do it with ease and joy. In addition to providing me with transportation, lodging, food and companionship, Graceli and Vincenti gifted me, on the very first evening, with the request to visit their daughterʹs language school. Much to my amazement, I spent an hour with adult students so that they could practice conversing in English. Those young adults asked so many great questions about the United States, my work and religious life. Perhaps this was my biggest SURPRISE of the journey — the unexpected opportunity to be of service. The task of ʺunpackingʺ the treasures of this Pilgrimage of Celebration has just begun. I look forward to hearing what treasures my co-pilgrims found in their spiritual suitcase.
Sister Sandi Salois
Our Hearts Blazed Within Us Brazil…December 2013! Utterly amazing! With hearts bursting joyfully, we embraced at the airport and Center house to start the celebration of our 50th anniversary in Brazil!! There were many delightful moments such as sharing meals, seeing the programs of the school children, playing cards and witnessing the Mass at St. Anthony Parish where we had been for a number of years. Every place we went, the people were warm and welcoming! Visiting the graves of Corrine, Gloria and Johanna were sobering and grateful times. I was reminded of Francis, Clare and Mother Alfred who ministered where they were needed, just like our Sisters and Associates have done and do now. My heart and soul felt immersed in grace as we celebrated our 50 year anniversary Mass in Santa Helena. Looking around at the expanse of 800 praying people, I thought again of how we are all special in God’s eyes. God is so generous and loving! As one Congregation, we again hugged our good-byes on our last day in Goiânia. Two of our Brazilian Sisters whispered, “Don’t go….” Yet, we know we are all called to do “what is ours to do.” I will always remember our amazing time in Brazil!!
Sister Therese Tusek
Two things, among MANY, struck me: The ability of the Sisters and all we met to be so present to the moment. Weʹve been aiming to do that (living mindfully) as a result of Chapter, but it felt absolutely natural for them . . . Awesome! Entering the airport at Brasilia, surrounded by ʺBrazil-nessʺ gave me a little taste of what immigrants must face & feel when they attempt entry to the U.S. Because of all the prep Meg and Jennifer did, it was easy for us, but my heart ached when I realized what they must face. One more moment of deep gratitude on my part!
Associate Anne Tietyen
Reflection . . . Brazil Celebration Going back to Brazil after 42 years was like stepping out of a time machine! All the places I remember from the early years have changed. There’s so much growth and progress — new churches, roads paved, and towns have become cities. Best of all, the spirit and mission of the Congregation is powerfully alive in the ministries of our growing Brazilian community. This visit brought back treasured memories of those pioneer days, and let me see that the hopes and dreams of that time have become reality.
IrmãMargaret Noser, Regional Coordinator, Brazil
Reflection on the Celebration of Our Fifty Years in Brazil The celebration in December was a culmination of the year of prayer and celebration. It was a grace to have so many of our Sisters from the States with us. The comment of the people from Santa Helena was that even though most were well experienced the group was such a happy group that a feeling of hope and gratitude was very present. I personally felt that having so many of our Sisters with us was a real sign of support and encouragement to continue this mission in this holy land. Santa Helena is a very special place with special people and they all appreciated the presence of our Sisters in their homes. The time went by so fast that I felt that we who live here were a bit too occupied and didn’t give the time we should have to being with our Sisters, but the being together encourages us to remember that we are all one community and journey together on this mission of spreading the Good News wherever we are. I felt bad that we were not able to translate all the beautiful things that were said about our Sisters. In Maurilândia, Santo Antonio and Santa Helena the people testified to the great impact that the Sisters made in their lives and it was too bad that these could not be translated while being said. We are grateful to the Congregation for providing such a warm support for our Celebration and pray that in fifty years we’ll be celebrating again the many graces that God has given us. Thanks so much for all that you did and are for us.
Irmã Izabel Lopes dos Santos, Second Regional Councilor, Brazil
“Trust in God and He will give you what your heart desires.” Sl 37 Mother Alfred, with her brilliant mind and keen wisdom, courage and confidence, knew well where to tread and make a diﬀerence, without losing the vision of her starting point – Jesus Christ. And following her example, various other women, courageous and persevering, filled with the same spirit of adventure and strength, founded the mission of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate in Brazil. Today we celebrate 50 years of that mission among the people. And for me, treating of our celebration, what left me the most enthusiastic and hopeful, was the possibility of celebrating the presence of a good number of our Sisters, who came from a great distance, with their limitations due to age, making a great eﬀort so that this special day could happen well. Thanks be to God for all of this. Due to all of this, I feel that the celebration brought more vigor and encouraged me to be more assiduous and strive with greater persistence for this mission. I could also perceive that our sisters, with all of us in Brazil, have the desire to “relight the Flame of Religious Life”, which is going through a process of changes and challenges, aﬀecting thereby the identity, the vigor and Charism of Consecrated Life. And confident that He will act, and united in the struggle and in prayer, we are signs and witnesses of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, capable of attracting new generations to sow new seeds in favor of the Kingdom of God. With aﬀection and prayers, Ir. Izabel
Irmã Jeronima Marques da Costa
Jubilee Celebration The Jubilee celebration of the Congregation was a time of GRACE for me. As we read in Eclesiastes, there is a time for everything; this was a time to be still and welcoming. It was a time to recall and reflect on our presence among the people, to perceive the leadership which exists even in the places where we no longer live. How many seeds germinated! Another strong point was the presence of so many North American Sisters who came to give us support and share with us this moment, so beautiful and so significant in the history of our Congregation. There were so many manifestations of caring that we were ecstatic in feeling the merciful love of God in us and through us. I believe that through baptism we are anointed with the same Spirit who anointed Jesus, we became members of the church, disciples and missionaries of God. That being true, all of the manifestations of aﬀection we received during this time don’t let us sit back and rest, but were an invitation to assume with love, the baptismal commitment to carry on the project of Jesus, “oﬀering the oil of our life so that the Light of God can always remain aflame on the earth.” Jê
Irmã Luzia Aparecida Daniel
Love and fraternity united us . . . Our celebration of 50 years of the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate in mission in Brazil, was enchanting. As I see it, nothing unpleasant happened. The Sisters who came from the United States were joyful, trying to understand us and did everything possible to please us, even without knowing how to speak our language. Love and fraternity united us in an almost perfect way. At meal time there was complete confusion but it was very beautiful. No one knew which language they were speaking, but it seemed that everyone understood everyone, or, that they loved each other much. Let’s repeat this celebration for our 60 years! Irmã Luzia Aparecida Daniel
Irmã Maria Diniz Gomes It is with a certain nostalgia that I remember the excitement of our celebration of 50 years of the Congregation in Brazil. Receiving the Sisters who live in the United States, I felt more connected with them and feel that God is very generous with all of us and sent us so many gracious, lovable and generous Sisters. For this and for all that you have done for us I give thanks to God. Thank you for the visit.
May all of you feel welcome whenever you can come to Brazil. A fraternal embrace, Ir. Maria Diniz Gomes
Irmã Maria das Merces Alves Barbosa
For me, the visit of the Sisters was a grace. I greatly enjoyed meeting each one and I also appreciated their flexibility, because they were always attentive and grateful for everything that was proposed. Because of this, I felt that we are truly one Congregation in mission due to the openness which they demonstrated. I felt that we truly are sister to one another, through the air of preoccupation which each one showed for the health of those who weren’t well. I ask God to conserve this sentiment of caring in our hearts. And to close, I hope that I will be able to be so open when I find myself facing a diﬀerent culture. Um abraço. Peace and all good! Ir. Maria das Mercês
Life in Brazil:
Irmã Débora de Castro Alves
Life in Brazil:
Irmã Maria Aparecida Teles Proto
Life in Brazil:
Irm達 Neli Vieira dos Santos Professor / Administrative Assistant
Life in Brazil:
Irm達 Ana Claudia Pontes Rezende
Life in Brazil:
Irm達 Rita Cristina Lima dos Santos
Missionary in the Acre State of the Amazon
Life in Brazil:
Irm達 Sebastiana Barbosa de Freitas
Vocation Director / Parish Ministry
Irm達 Maria Aparecida Gomes
School Ministry Temporary Professed Minister
Life in Brazil:
Irm達 Rosa Maria Lima dos Santos
First Regional Councilor / Novice Minister
Life in Brazil:
Irmã Lúcia Martins Ferreira Coordinator of Parish School / Parish Ministry
Life in Brazil:
Rosa Ribeiro Dinís
Pre-Novice / works in San Damiano School 35
Life in Brazil:
Irm達 Grimaldina Oliveira dos Santos
Irm達 Grimaldina in her ministry as the Principal of the Instituto San Damiano
Life in Brazil:
Irm達 Beatriz de Sousa
Irm達 Beatriz: School Ministry
Donation to Children’s Center:
Sister Teresinha Mendonça Del ‘Acqua
As part of our Jubilee Celebration we visited the Educational Children Center St. Antônio of Pádua in Santa Helena of Goiás, where some of our Sisters ministered. We were very touched by the children’s Christmas presentation to us and by the love the ladies give to these children living in such a poor condition. They didn’t have TV, or a DVD player. As a Congregation we donated a Sony DVD player and 4 DVDs with 31 Children stories. The director, Ms. Elzenir Oliveira Barros was so happy, grateful and wished a blessing on each of us.
Translation: The Educational Children‘s Center St. Antônio of Pádua in Santa Helena of Goiás thank you for your donation. We are sure the collective feeling of love and help to others helps us to grow every day and be closer to the teacher and Master Jesus who taught us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. To you, our gratitude!
Enjoying a meal together in Santa Helena:
North and South American Sisters Unite
Sister Albert Marie Papesh, Irmã Rita Cristina Lima dos Santos, Sister Therese Tusek, Associate Anne Tietyen, Irmã Débora de Castro Alves and Sister Anna Konrath
Irmã Ruth Berry, Sister Kathy Salewski, Sister Odelia Kloc, Sister Barbara Kwiatkowski, Irmã Margaret Noser, Irmã Luzia Aparecida Daniel
Sisters Rosemary Fonck, Vivian Whitehead, Teresinha Del’Acqua, Mary Jean Morris, Lois Prebil and Peggy Quinn
North and South Unite!:
Bonding Moments . . .
Santo Antônio da Barra, Goiás:
Parish of St. Anthony of Padua
Talk given by a parishioner of Santo Antonio at the Mass of celebration. In thanksgiving for the eight years in which the Franciscan Sisters of Mary Immaculate remained in our community. It is diﬃcult to speak of the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate, and not become emotional. Those who had the joy of living with them, know what we are saying. Their presence marked so many moments of our lives and that of the community.
Translation Everything began on January 17, 1999, with the arrival of The St. Anthony of Padua Parish thank the the first Sisters: Sister Jeronima, our dear Sister Jê, a true Franciscan Sisters for their presence in our master of the faith, wise in her words and correct in all of city. her actions, together with the novices Simone and Maria Isabel and with them the ideal of helping work for a better life for all of our parishioners. It was gratifying for us to see the care, devotion and dedication of these strong women who won over everyone and developed and served in pastoral works: Catechetics, Liturgy, Childhood Missionaries, Prayer Groups, Baptism, Tithing, Choral Group, Children’s Pastoral and so many others. So many works were developed! Every seed sown was a new learning and how much we learned, how much we grew spiritually.
People in Santo Antônio da Barra are greeting and hugging the Sisters in appreciation.
In 2000 what a blessing to receive the unforgettable and loved Sister Rita Cristina . . . what charism, dynamism and friendship for all! We counted on women of faith and prayer in the work of evangelization and we were enriched by the gift of their lives dedicated to all of our pastoral works.
In 2001 our much loved Sister Grace arrived . . . a true mother who during her journey with us let flow a generous fountain of the love that exists in her heart and her communion with God generated beauty and innumerable blessings in us. In 2004, with the presence of Sr. Cida Gomes in our midst . . . who, with her special charism, taught us that only the love of Jesus Christ is capable of giving us all that we need to be truly happy. continued on the next page
In 2005 we were graced with the work of two Sisters: Débora and Maria Antônia, who knew how to enchant all of us with their commitment to evangelization, helping us to grow in faith every day on our journey in pastoral works. At the beginning of 2007 we had Sister Izabel Lopes with us, who, though she remained only a few months, also left her contribution. During these years there were many moments of joy, but we can’t forget to mention the times of sorrow, when the tears fell . . . what we call separations . . . how we felt when each Sister left, sentiments of pain, of loss, mixed with love, friendship, companionship, though today we understand that despite the distance, what matters most is the bridge which unites us in Jesus Christ. During these eight years of evangelization in Santo Antônio da Barra, besides being present in the pastoral activities and community, the Sisters: Jeronima, Rita Cristina, Cida Gomes and Maria Antônia also worked in the educational field at the State Colégio Hermínio Rodrigues Leão, the Municipal School Santa Marta in Santa Cruz das Lages and the program for the Eradication of Child Labor. All of the Catholic community is grateful for the privilege of being able to live with these very special women, who with love and dedication contributed to the building of our parish and consequently a better world, following the teachings of Christ. And we believe that all of you are a part of our history written during these eight years. Our great thanks to you for everything! Continue praying for us because we will never forget you in our prayers!!!
While the Celebration is over, our memories remain! 41
Brazil 2013 Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate 1433 Essington Road Joliet IL 60435-2873 815-725-8735 www.jolietfranciscans.org 44
Published on Mar 4, 2014
A publication of the Sisters of St. Francis of Mary Immaculate to commemorate the 50th anniversary of our ministry in Brazil.