Focolare Movement
Brazil: Violent neighbourhoods and the power of love

Brazil: Violent neighbourhoods and the power of love

20150311-01“Yesterday a man was shot 13 times.” This is what the first person who opened the door of his home to several young people who, on the weekend of February 20-22 always presented themselves to him with a smile. We are on the peripheries of Juiz de Fora, a deprived neighbourhood in the State of Minas Gerais (Brazil). After a few hours that same person said to those young people: “Whereas yesterday we experienced terror, today we feel only love.”

Those young people were from the Focolare, Charismatic Renewal, and Shalom Community – parish  youth – a hundred in all. In just over a year they have visited ten cities and met some 5,000 families with whom they shared sorrows and joys, courageously announcing to them that God loves them immeasurably. The people expressed joy for their presence: priests are few and do not manage to reach everyone who is in need.  

“It all began during World Youth Day 2013 and the meeting of millions of young people with the Pope on Copacabana beach,” the Gen from Minas Gerais recount. “During the final Mass, a girl in our group began to feel the central message of World Youth Day quite strongly: “Go out and make disciples of all the peoples.” 

During the return trip to Juiz de Fora, Leticia – that’s the girls name – shared what she had felt with the other Gen and, together they decided that it would be an opportunity to speak with their archbishop, Don Gil Antônio Moreira.

Leticia went to visit him with the encouragement of her friends. The archbishop had already prayed that WYD would not only remain a great memory, but that the intense experience shared by so many young people from around the world might continue in some way.

20150311-02That is how the “Young Continental Missionaries” project began, a name proposed by the archbishop, with the goal of launching young people to reach out to others, to be a living Church that “goes out, together and prepared.” These three words are the three main points of the project: mission, prayer, formation.

“It’s just great to go together, young people from different parishes and Movements, but like brothers and sisters,” Vinicius explains, “respecting each other’s diversity in the way of praying and talking in intimacy with God. Also quite important is the dialogue that is generated with several families from other religions.”

“Going into the homes of the people,” Ana Paula adds, “many open their doors to us and invite us in, and we discover the most beautiful treasures, as when we visited an Evangelical Christian who had lost her husband only a few days earlier. After we were together for a while she said: “I can no longer be sad, because he’s with the Father in Heaven.”

Cristiano concludes: “We go into the peripheries of the city never knowing what we will meet but always trusting in God. We feel Him saying to us today: “Love one another as I have loved you.” Then, especially love those who are most in need, even when we are tired or make mistakes. You can always begin again!”