Founder’s Day in India

SCJs in India gather for Founder’s Day

In some parts of the world, Founder’s Day is noted as the commemoration of the death of Fr. Leo John Dehon on August 12, 1925 (many entities also celebrate Fr. Dehon’s birth on March 14, 1843, as “Founder’s Day”). Fr. Tom Cassidy writes about the Indian District’s Founder’s Day gatherings in a recent journal entry:

With three formation houses and three parishes it brings quite a crowd together. It was CDN’s turn to host the gathering this year but with the large number of minor seminarians (41) from  Dehon Prema Nilayam the decision was made to hold it at DPN. We did bring from CDN our cooks John and Rekha to help with feeding the large crowd.

Last year some of our CDN brothers had to take public transportation since we only have our truck and van to cart people around in. Due to a late train bound for Eluru the brothers did not get back to CDN until around 4:00 am last year. I’m not sure if that was the motivating force but Fr. Micahel Augustine, scj, our rector, borrowed a van from our former Telugu teacher and a car from our own Br. Meghanandha Chakravarthi Bandanadham’s, scj (3rd year) family and with that we were able to accommodate our entire community.

Our Saturday began with Eucharistic Adoration and the presentation of our Dehonian Crosses to the 15 new students from Dehon Prema Nilayam (DPN) followed by the blessing of new juppas (shirts) for all in attendance. These were made to measure by the ladies of Sacred Heart parish  sewing center in Vempadu. I was asked to bless the crosses and distribute them as well as bless the juppas. I used the opportunity to remind the new students that while they are at the beginning stage of their formation process it would go by quickly, just ask our fourth-year theologians! I also reminded all present that we are responsible for living and promoting the charism of our founder. After Adoration, the juppas were distributed to everyone so that we could take a group photo.

While I did not take a head count I think we had over a 100 in attendance.

In addition to Adoration and Mass there were lots of sports activities: basketball, volleyball, cricket and soccer. At night a number of individual indoor games were played such as table tennis and chess.

The next day started with a quiz between the three communities of Dehon Prema Nilayam (DPN), Sacred Heart Ashram (SHA or Novitiate) and Christu Dehon Nivas (CDN) on the life of Fr. Dehon. It was won by the novitiate brothers (SHA).

 

“Reconciliation on steroids!”

Fr. Mark with youth at Life Teen

Fr. Mark Mastin, SCJ, who serves as a civilian chaplain at Fort Gordon in Georgia, shares the following reflection about his experience with a Life Teen weekend:

“Reconciliation on steroids” is how I would describe the 10 hours I spent listening to confessions for teenagers, young college students and adults at the Steubenville Life Teen Weekend Conference. The gathering had close to 3,000 participants.

Throughout all those hours I did not feel tired but instead felt energized as I fulfilled what our founder, Fr. Leo John Dehon, asked of us: to be Prophets of Love and Servants of Reconciliation (Rule of Life No. 7).  When he said this, Fr. Dehon must have had modern-day youth conferences in mind. Well, maybe not quite a vision of a 21st century music-filled, loud and exuberant praise-and-worship youth conference where one is lucky to get maybe five hours of sleep a day.  However, our founder knew that we are all in need of forgiveness, spiritual repair, and most of all, a sense of love and belonging.

Preparing for Mass

Fr Dehon was very astute in his observations about a world in need of help and change, a Sacred Heart transplant if you will.  Fr. Dehon must have realized that if we help our young people feel wanted and cared for, then perhaps the future of the Church and World will be in good hands; it would be a world full of hopeful and constant reconciliation, especially in our families where love begins and ends.  I believe that Fr. Dehon tapped into this understanding very well by establishing his own successful youth programs. Having served in youth ministry for most of my life and having performed thousands of hours of counseling throughout my religious and military life, I see that our young people want to be listened to and feel that they have a place in which they fit. They need to know that they matter and have value and purpose in life.

Fr. Dehon wanted members of his religious community to be available to help bring God’s message of love, reconciliation, and reparation to all people as a remedy for “the lack of love in the Church and in the world.”  In other words, he wanted his men to be the instruments of God’s healing for all forms of spiritual ills caused not just by personal sin but the byproducts of public sin, such as social injustices found in poor living and working conditions and inappropriate  wages. These impact a person not just spiritually but emotionally, physically, and psychologically.

As Priests of the Sacred Heart, we continue this mission of Fr. Dehon to be prophets of love and servants of reconciliation for people and the world in Christ through our whole lives, our prayers, our works, and in our sufferings and joys (cf. NQ XXV, 5).

Back in India!

 

The community welcomes Fr. Tom back to India

Last week Fr. Tom Cassidy returned to his second home: the District of India. There, he spends several months of each year assisting with the formation communities. While in India he maintains a daily journal. Periodically we will share excerpts from it on our province blog. The following is a snippet from one of Fr. Tom’s first journal entries:

Our usual breakfast routine was broken up this morning with a breakfast that would be well known to Americans: Rice Krispies and Muslix along with bananas and juice. I’ve never been able to find Rice Krispies in India though most other cereals are available so I brought with me a family size box for the students to try.

Today is a free day for the students and it started with late rising and breakfast at 8:00 am. I had to rise earlier as I had the 7:00 am Mass for the Holy Family Brothers, picking up my routine from earlier this year of celebrating Mass for the brothers on weekends.

One reason for making today a free day was all the activity of the past week in getting ready for and then hosting the district’s ongoing formation program. That ended at noon yesterday and then last night we all went to Sacred Heart parish Vempadu for the first Friday evening service that our students conducted. The service is done in a manner similar to a revival in the Pentecostal style — a lot of  “Praise the Lord Hallelujahs” thrown in from time to time.

First Friday

There is, of course, a Catholic twist to it all. The service began at 7:30 pm with exposition of the Blessed Sacrament followed by a praise and worship service. I call it the warm up act. Last evening it was led by Br. Jesu Prasad Siddela, SCJ (thirdrd year). This portion of the service ran about 45 minutes and is designed to prepare the congregation for the sermon. Last evening it was delivered by Br. Chitti Babu Nandipamu, SCJ (second year) who spoke for 45 minutes. While this was going on Fr. Michael Augustine, SCJ, heard confessions underneath the bell tower. The service ended with benediction but very different from what Americans experience. In this service the priest goes around to each person and blesses him or her with the monstrance. When the Blessed Sacrament is returned to the tabernacle and the priest leaves the alter there is no closing hymn. The people simply get up and leave the church. We finished around 9:15 pm and went from the church to the parish house for supper before heading home.

I don’t know all that well the history of the development of the Catholic Church in Andhra Pradesh but it certainly is the most Pentecostal compared to Goa or Kerala, two other areas of the country that I have spent time in. Kerala and Goa have a much bigger concentration of Catholics and that may have something to do with it. I have been told by our Andhra Pradesh brothers that the people have been heavily influenced by Protestantism where preaching is the central part of worship. Certainly in Goa and Kerala a homily of 15 minutes is the norm but here in Andhra it is generally 30 minutes or more.

Celebrating Festa Junina!

Frater Juancho with novices in Barretos

Frater Juancho Castañeda Rojas shares the following from Brazil:

During my time in Brazil doing my pastoral year I have had an incredible experience in many diverse ministries such as parish work, youth ministry, mission in rural areas, and learning about the Dehonian spirituality by sharing time with students in different stages of formation. In addition, I have participated in the Rosary for men and with people at the Institute Saint Jude Thaddeus who have many different needs. But I have also had the opportunity to learn about the amazing and diverse Brazilian culture and gastronomy.

Learning a language is not just about communication because it also helps one understand the culture and traditions of the people who speak it. And this is what has happened to me as I have been submerged in a rich and beautiful mix of religious and popular traditions that are all very important for the Brazilian people.

L-R: Fra. Otavio, Fra. Luis, Fra. Bruno and Fra. Juancho

Recently I had the opportunity to participate in Festa Junina (June Fest) which featured a far-ranging display of music, dance, food, costumes, friendship, bonfires and fraternization. For many people this is a month each year that they look forward to with great expectations. I had thought the biggest event in Brazil each year was the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. But I was amazed to learn how much everyone looks forward to celebrating June Fest.

There is no clear explanation about the origin of this feast. One theory is that it originated as a way to celebrate the three Catholic religious feasts that occur in the month of June honoring Saint John the Baptist, Saint Peter, and Saint Anthony. However, historians say that this feast was brought to Brazil by the Portuguese during the colonial period.  What is clear is the importance of this festive occasion for people here in Brazil.

As I took part in celebration of this feast in the Institute Saint Jude Thaddeus in Sao Paulo, I was mesmerized by the participation of the people in this event and of course I loved the food. But I also had the opportunity to share this celebration with the novices from our congregation and other religious communities in the city of Barretos. I was also impressed with how they lived their culture with joy and fraternity. Wearing some costumes and typical clothes for this festival they celebrated their culture in their own way. This was a beautiful experience because it was a good reminder about how authentic our response to God’s call can be by keeping alive our traditions and our hearts full of joy.

I know that wherever I go I will be exposed to new cultures and traditions which I embrace with love. But I also know that wherever God leads me, I will bring with me my own essence and will keep my own traditions and culture as a Colombian. Because I am sure that those are gifts that I can share with everyone. It is true that the call to religious life has some sacrifices and we have to renounce many things. But we do not give up the essence of our personalities because that is what makes us who we are. And it was because of our uniqueness that God called us to follow him.  As I continue learning about the Dehonian ministry and mission in Brazil, I am also learning about its amazing culture and its traditions which are full of color and joy.

A feast-day reflection on being “united in one heart”

Frater Juancho and friends in Brazil

Frater Juancho Castañeda Rojas is concluding his year of ministry in Brazil. On feast of the Sacred Heart, he shares the following reflection on the experience:

During my pastoral year experience in Brazil, I had the opportunity to reflect about the meaning of Ecce Venio, Ecce Ancilla, and the real meaning of going out of the sacristy to be among the poor and marginalized. This experience has been really important in my discernment and my desire to give my life completely to the service of God in the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart. Learning about the spirituality of Fr. Dehon from members of the congregation here in Brazil has been also very important in the growth of my vocation.

In my stay here I have truly been able to experience being united in one heart, the heart of Fr. Dehon in the love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus which is his legacy to us as Dehonians. I have found that the congregation here in Brazil has many different and rich ministries. And I use the word “rich” to refer to the active and loving participation of people of the community here in different ministries we have such as our parish ministry, youth ministries, programs  serving communities in rural areas, and many others. In this way, this experience has revealed to me how rich our labor is as Dehonians. It has helped me understand our internationality and how we meet the needs of people in the places in which our congregation is present. It has also helped me understand that the service that we offer to others is the true meaning of our vocation and that our call to God takes its meaning from that service. 

As we prepare to celebrate the feast of the Sacred Heart I have had some time to reflect upon that great love to the Sacred Heart of Jesus that is a legacy from our Founder, Fr. Dehon. In the same way, I have also reflected upon the words of our General Superior Father Heinrich Wilmer, SCJ. His recent letter to the congregation gave me many wonderful ideas to reflect on. And in my case two main ideas stuck in my heart as they are very close to the experience I have had in Brazil. 

Just as Fr. Wilmer says when he cites Martin Buber, I have come to realize that “Only with a You do I become an I.” This, in my opinion, is the foundation of our vocation as Dehonians. We have been called to live among the poor and the marginalized, people who are in need and struggle in their daily lives. It is from the people we serve that our vocation takes its meaning and is fully realized. During my experience in Brazil I have visited very poor places far from the cities. During that time I came to understand that as I was helping people they were helping me in understanding the true value of my vocation.

Of course, I would be lying if I said that every experience I have had was nice because many involved problems or difficult situations. The tough times included super hot weather and a lack of air conditioning, taking super cold showers in cold weather, and dealing with the death of one of the parishioners five minutes before mass. There was a drunk man screaming in a loud voice while I was giving a reflection during mass. Also the difficulty of being surrounded by a horde of mosquitoes during mass. But even when times were challenging, I always realized that I was experiencing growth in my vocation and that what I was doing and enduring was for service to others. 

I understand our call to live intimate communion with God. But I also understand that it is through our service to others that we truly experience communion with God. It is the intimate and personal communion with God that Fr. Dehon experienced and translated for us as the intimate communion with our brothers and sisters. In this way, this union with the poor and marginalized reveals the joy of our union with Jesus. This is how our call and vocation takes its meaning and purpose as we strive for a perfect relationship with the love of God, one that is reflected in our love for our brothers and sisters. For me, this is how our vocation makes sense in complete and joyful union with Jesus. Just as Martin Buber says, “Only with a You do I become an I.”

It is only with a You that I become an I.” And I have to say that it is because of You my brothers in community, priests, brothers, all of those in formation that I become an I, and even those who for many reasons are no longer with us in the congregation that I have become an I. That is because “You” means all the people who work with us daily, helping us in many ways to continue our labors and mission.  It is because all of You that I have become a Dehonian. It is because all of You that I and the Dehonian charism have become one.

The second important message in the letter from our Superior General Fr. Wilmer is something that is not new in my reflections and that was very important in my decision to come to Brazil. This is something we have heard many times from Pope Francis, but that is also a tremendous legacy and message from Fr. Dehon: “Get out of the Sacristy.” As Pope Francis says: “The Church must go out, go to the people there where they live, where they suffer, where they hope.” This is not just an invitation, but a command that clearly reveals our identity as Dehonians. Going out to the people, going out to encounter and experience their needs. Many times their suffering and struggles help us remember how privileged our lives are because of all the things we have and help us to live lives without struggles. Thanks to my experiences in Brazil I have grown in my identity as a Dehonian and a missionary. I have grown in my spirituality and my desire to give my life completely to the service to my brothers and sisters. And I know that I am not alone, because I have my brothers in community that continually help me to become a better person and future minister.

As we celebrate the Feast of The Sacred Heart, I can see how we are united in one heart. the heart of Jesus that was pierced because of the great love to us  and to God the father. We are united in the heart of our founder Fr. Dehon who saw in the Sacred Heart of Jesus a fountain of inspiration and love. Today I know that it does not matter where we are… Brazil, United States, Poland, India…  because we are all united in one heart. We are Dehonians.

VIVAT COR JESU!!!!

“I don’t have anything but I have everything!”

Frater Juan Carlos Castañda Rojas, a seminarian doing his pastoral year in Brazil, shares the following reflection. He wrote it after learning of the death of Br. Gabriel Kersting, who died on April 7. 

Remembering Br. Gabe

Br. Gabe Kersting

I have to say that during my journey with the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, I have been able to meet many amazing people, people who by the example of their lives have made a huge impact on my own vocation. And one of them Br. Gabriel Kersting. I met him on many different occasions but the one that really caused a huge impact in my life was during my novitiate year 2012-2013 when, with my novice master Fr. John Czyzynski and classmate Frater James Nguyen, we visited all the ministries of the congregation in the United States. That journey took us to Pinellas Park, Fl., to visit the retirement community of the US province

We had the wonderful opportunity to interview all the members of the community house. By that time Br. Gabe, as he was called, was having memory problems and was not able to remember many things. In fact, he was not able to remember what he had said just couple minutes before. However, we had a blessed moment chatting with him and asking him about his experience in the Congregation. One of the things he mentioned was about community living and how grateful he was to the entire community. Also he was very humble and honest in admitting to us that he did not remember many things. But what he said next are words that became tattooed on my heart:

“I don’t have anything, but I have everything.”

He explained to us that it meant he did not have any money, property, or valuable material things but that at the same time he had never missed those things because he had everything he needed thanks to the congregation. If he was sick he would get medicine or be able to visit a doctor. He was able to complete his education, and if he was hungry he knew he would always have food from the community.

Those words truly stayed with me “I don’t have anything, but I have everything.” When I got the news last week that Br. Gabe had passed away, those words resounded in my heart and my mind like a burning fire. Today as my pastoral year continues in Brazil and I have been able to see the difficult life situations of many poor people here, those words have become even stronger in my life as a foundation of growth in my vocation.

Frater Juancho with youth in Brazil

“I don’t have anything, but I have everything.” As I see the difficult situations of the people by doing what our founder Fr. Leo Dehon taught us, which is to be among the poor, the most vulnerable, and marginalized,  I  appreciate how these humble, wonderful people, in their own way, also live the words of Br. Gabe. They live in very humble homes, some made with clay and with only roofs made of palms leaves, some with floors made of dirt and walls made from old boards. Many families sleep in hammocks because they don’t have money to buy beds for everyone and in many cases because their homes are so small they don’t have enough space.  But despite living situations that for many people would be unbearable, they are the most welcoming people I have ever encountered, sharing the little that they have and always with a warm smile in their faces. I have been in their homes, and shared a meal with them and even experienced sleeping in a hammock, which to be honest I found more comfortable than the bed. Some of them said that I was becoming a native like them because I slept in the hammock but that to become a true native I had to get used to the heat, which has been difficult for me to bear.

I was very moved as I visited different communities including the churches they built to have a place to celebrate mass and live their faith. Because many of these people live far from the parish or matriz, which is how it is called here, there is a need to create a place for the small neighborhoods. Brick by brick and with the collaboration and effort of the entire community and sharing the little that they have, they build their sacred place to live their faith. Amazingly a parish can have 20, 30, 50, or even 130 communities and all of them created by the effort of these people.

“I don’t have anything, but I have everything.” These people live in extreme poverty, without a proper water system, and are exposed to many illnesses caused by mosquitoes. But if you go along the streets, which also are in very bad condition, you can see many families sitting outside their homes. Some are playing cards, others just talking, and many trying to avoid the high temperatures because of the lack of fans or air conditioning.

In one of my most recent visits to one of the communities, I was very moved when I heard how they were building their church. The church was just unfinished walls, flooring, and seats made with old wood. And there were no fans despite the very hot weather. But in my eyes it was the most beautiful place I have ever seen. I felt the love of these people and the price of what they had so far achieved. It is true that I have seen many amazing art woks, churches that are incredible because they are huge, stylish, comfortable, and historic. But this place, this unfinished place, had been created through more faith, love, devotion, and sacrifice than many of the most beautiful ones I have visited. As in other communities, people received me with open arms and a beautiful sincere smile on their faces. And there was also some laughter because I was sweating heavily because of the heat. But after we celebrated mass, many people came to give me a hug and welcomed me to take some selfies. That place became the most beautiful place I had ever seen not because of its walls or the roof or the seats that made up the church. The beauty was in the heart of the people who were truly building community, building a church.

While I have been among these people, I have experienced some of their needs. But I know that I am and will be privileged. In the future if I get sick I will be able to get some medicine and care and that on my return to the United States there is a school waiting for me; and that if I am hungry there is always something to eat. I know by experience that “I don’t have anything, but I have everything.”

I have come to understand the meaning of those beautiful and powerful words.   Because of the many experiences I have had during my time in the Congregation of the Priest of the Sacred Heart, I know that I have not just the material things to cover all my needs but also and more importantly the spiritual and moral support of my brothers in the community.

I know that there is and always will be someone to walk with me, to care about me, and to be a companion in this amazing journey of our vocation. I don’t have anything but I have everything and I am privileged because I am part not just of a congregation, but a great family which takes care of each member of this family. My novice master once told me that our vow of poverty invited us to live simply but that it is also a reminder that we may have more privileges than most people. Thank you Fr. John (muchacho), I truly understand those words and our invitation to recognize the needs of others and to be among them and experience their needs by putting ourselves in their place. By putting our privileges aside and humbling ourselves, we can truly experience their needs and also their joy.

One of the members of our family went before us on this journey. But Br. Gabriel Kersting, by his legacy and example, stays with us even after his death. Thank you Br. Gabe for the gift of your life within our congregation. Thank you for the beautiful gift of the example of your life. Thank you for the amazing words that came from your heart and impacted my life. Thank you for teaching me that I don’t have anything, but that I have everything because I already have all that I need as a member of this Congregation, as a member of this family. Rest in peace dearly beloved Brother and watch over us as we continue with the legacy of Fr. Dehon

One must listen to be a Dehonian

“Dehonitation”

We continue preparing ourselves during this season of Lent to live the pascal mystery of the life, Passion, death, and resurrection of Christ. And I am also continuing with my pastoral experience in Brazil where I have the opportunity to really understand the meaning of going out of the sacristy and being among those who are in need and more vulnerable than most people. My getting to know more about the different ministries and the impact the Priests of the Sacred Heart have in the various regions of Brazil has been a meaningful growing experience for me as a Dehonian. And it has made me able to understand the needs of others and to be present to help them.

There is no more perfect time than this season of Lent for me to reflect on my vocation and my response to God’s call to strengthen my relationship with other people. And the Second Sunday of Lent in which we celebrated the transfiguration of the Lord provides suitable readings to reflect on what I am thinking about. One beautiful message for reflection comes from the reading of the Book of Genesis (12: 1-4a) the calling of Abraham and the promises of God’s blessings. I reflect on my own vocation and of hearing God’s call, which took me to a foreign land: the United States where I have been blessed by many experiences and all the amazing people I have met during my time in formation there. And today after following my heart and missionary call, I am again in another new land ––  Brazil  –– and I am experiencing more amazing experiences and countless blessings during my pastoral year here.

As we read of the transfiguration of the Lord in the Gospel according to Matthew (17:1-9), where the Divinity of the Lord is revealed to some of His disciples, an important message made its way into my heart. “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” “listen to him…” in moments of sadness and sorrow, “listen to him…” in times of joy and happiness, “listen to him…” in moments when we do not know which way or path in our lives we should follow, “listen to him…”  when the political situation affects everyone specially the poor and marginalized, “listen to him…”  “listen to him…”  And so I must remember, always, to “listen to him” myself.

When I was looking for a spiritual reading to enrich my personal prayer during this season of Lent, I found the perfect book in the library of the community house in the city of Parauapebas State of Para where I spent two weeks. John Leo Dehon, a Prophet of the Verb Go, is a book written by Fr. Jose Fernades de Oliveria, an SCJ well known not just in Brazil but in many countries as Fr. Zezinho, SCJ, famous because of his singing career. As I was taking a look at this book, I was struck by the description of it by Fr. João Carlos Almeida, SCJ, who said this book is more than a biography because it captures the soul of the life, work, mission, and spirituality of Fr. Dehon.

In his description, Fr. João Carlos says that after you start reading this book you will not be able to stop … And that after finishing reading it your life will be “Dehonizada.” What a beautiful way to describe that feeling, that your life will be, allow me please to do interpret it by using the word “Dehonitation.” Is that a real term? I am not really sure, I just know that I am learning the meaning of that term. This Dehonitation is something that even if someone tells you what it is about, the best way to understand it is by living it through the experience of your life.

I have come to understand that Dehonitation can be understood by taking the message of the Gospel “listen to him.” Fr. Dehon listened to the cry of the poor and the needs of those in his time who were in need and whose lives were marginalized. Fr. Dehon listened to God’s call and as result, the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart was born. Today we are called “Dehonians,” but we are not only religious men who listened God’s call because in our response we chose to live the charism and teachings of Fr. Dehon. Today the Dehonian family is integrated by the work and love of both religious and lay Dehonians, who walk hand in hand with us in our mission and ministry. Lay Dehonians have also experienced Dehonitation and live our charism in helping us reach out to and serve those who need us the most.

This past March 14, we celebrated the birthday of Fr. Dehon. We also celebrated our vocation as Dehonians, we celebrated our mission and ministry among the poor and marginalized, we celebrated our response to God’s call to the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacred Heart, and we celebrated the experience of Dehonitation in our lives.  Father Dehon listened to the cries and needs of the people in his time and gave us a legacy that we keep alive today. This legacy gives a deep meaning to the verb “go” because “to go” is an important part of our charism. It means going out of the sacristy and being among those who are marginalized or poor. As Fr. Zezinho mentioned in his book, Fr. Dehon was a real prophet of the verb go.

A missionary chapel in Brazil which Frater Juancho visits

As my pastoral year continues and I experience this Dehonitation, my spirituality and missionary vocation grows stronger and also grows is my firm desire to give my life to this Congregation and the service of those who need us the most. Of course, an essential pillar of our charism is our perpetual adoration and our intimate relationship with God, but my experience visiting rural communities has taught me that this Dehonitation occurs out of the sacristy among these people because it is in them that I can see the face of God.

During this season of Lent we are called to deepen our prayer life, to reflect, and to fast. It usually implies giving up something we are used to having and that will deprive us of a particular pleasure. Some people will give up soda, chocolates, TV shows, Facebook, or many other things. All of those things are good. But today as I experience Dehonitation in my life, I am not sure about what I should give up during this season. Instead, I am thinking about what I can give the most, how can I be present for others, and how I can bring the presence of God and comfort to those who are in need. During this season of Lent I want to continue this process of Dehonitation and listen to the will of God in my life.

Many times, I have said to people here in Brazil when I introduce myself that I decided to come to Brazil to do my pastoral year. I am proud to say that it was my decision, that I chose to come to Brazil and that all the amazing experiences that I am having are the result of my own decision.

But during Lent I have come to understand that it was not me who made the decision to come to Brazil, it was not my decision to go to the United States. Instead I realize that I was listening to God’s voice in my heart.  Today I say that I am in Brazil because it was the will of God.

Today I say that I am just listening to God and His will for me.  Today my invitation during this season of Lent is not of giving up something. instead, I invite you to think about what you can give,  how you can give more of yourself. My invitation then is to open your heart and to listen to the voice of God and to experience Dehonitation in your life and become a prophet of the verb Go.