Spending time with our Sisters in Brazil helped me to better understand province coordination and collaboration of social outreach in various ministries.
Sr. Silvania was kind enough to spend several days acquainting me with an amazing variety of programs coordinated by the Sisters of Passo Fundo province. Bombeiro Mirim works with at risk young men who spend time outside of school learning values and skills by participating with city firemen. Segments of the education include horticulture, music, woodworking, technology, and social and psychological skills. Project Transform Ação emerged from a commitment to care for the world in which we live; this amazing recycling project includes capacity building of numbers of adults. Transportation to the site, accounting, human resource management and work conditions are all a part of two large recycling endeavors initiatives which not only help to lessen the need for landfill, but also provide income for good sized staff. Meetings are held weekly in order to base these projects in principles of sustainability and spirituality.
Santa Cruz retreat center hosts a variety of workshops which provide spiritual, psychological, physical, and professional support for religious and lay ministers. One that was in session during my visit was that of care of the elderly. I joined the group as they culminated their workshop with a visit to Casa Betanía. Here the elder Sisters of the Province are participants in creating their own programs as was evident by their vibrant contributions to the day.
I spent a very full day with Sr. Imelda Jacoby, first at the Passo Fundo prison (built for 150 and holding 600) and the prison for adolescents in the area. I quickly became aware that, like Sr. Silvania, Sr. Imelda is highly respected by municipal colleagues, but must walk a very fine line between critique of the system and cooperation with the authorities in order to help the prisoners as much as possible. Work on social education and restorative justice are two of the capacity building approaches in which Sister has educated herself so that she can educate others. I am also very grateful to the Sisters of the Canoas province for their gracious hospitality during my short stay there.
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