Dangerous Conditions Do Not Deter Friars in Brazil
Life in a community on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro is always challenging.
One morning in 2019, Friar Dinomar Alves Pereira was surprised by a group of young people trapped in the drug trade, who were trying to hide from the police on the premises of the São Luiz, King of France Parish House. Overcome by panic and fear, the young people tried to coerce Fr. Dinomar into letting them into the house. Surely inspired by God, Fr. Dinomar convinced them to go to the church and pray, protecting the community of Friars and providing security and spiritual support to these young people, who, in a confrontation with the police, may have lost their own lives.
Costa Barros is in the North Zone of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It suffers from poverty and the violence of drug trafficking. Unable to access schools and government resources, many young people in this community turn to prostitution and the use of legal and illegal drugs.
Since 2007, the Friars Minor Conventual have served in this parish, offering its youth a feeling of belonging to a strong community which supports them. This urgent task includes supporting the families, providing them with dignity and welcoming them, as well as providing the necessary education and financial help.
The spirituality of the Friars has been gradually internalized by the people, exemplified by the greeting “Peace and Good,” shared in the community. The parish has won awards for its food pantry and meal program. The Friars have also shared their love of nature and care for the Earth, our “Common Home.”
Currently, they assist six communities, giving new hope through their care and improvements of the infrastructure. Using what little resources are available, the Friars have renovated church buildings, built additions for better access to Mass and social gatherings, upgraded electrical services, and provided day care for the children of the region.
The Friars in Brazil, especially those of Costa Barros, have increasingly sought to fulfill the mission of serving as “bridges” to community. The objective of all this work is to give the population of this region the opportunity to view and experience the Church of Christ, Alive, in Solidary and Franciscan!
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