(Pirapora do Bom Jesus, Brazil) – The Redemptorist Province of São Paulo, Brazil, beginning in April, has taken on new administrative and pastoral work in the sanctuary of Bom Jesus of Pirapora. Four Redemptorist Missionaries will establish a new community, responsible for the religious and administrative work of the shrine, which currently welcomes 600,000 people a year.
On March 23rd the four religious were commissioned at a Mass in the Basilica of our Lady of Aparecida, which is also under the pastoral care of the Redemptorists of the Province of São Paulo. The Eucharist was celebrated by the provincial superior of the Province of São Paulo, Father José Inácio de Medeiros, who presented them with the Missionary Cross.
The Sanctuary is 60 kilometers from the capital of São Paulo, the largest city in South America. The proximity of the Sanctuary to the main metropolis of Brazil makes the Province of São Paulo dream. “The desire of the Province is to make Pirapora a great pastoral center of the city, where people from the metropolitan area of São Paulo and other cities in the state can be welcomed,” said Father Inácio.
The new community is made up of young missionaries, but who already have other pastoral experiences. Starting with the superior of the new community, Father Rodrigo Arnoso. He has already worked in the International Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, in Rome, and served as prefect of the church at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida. Now he will assume a new mission as rector and pastor of the Shrine of Bom Jesus. Also on the team are Fathers José Afonso Savassa and João Paulo Ramos, as well as Brother Heliomarcos Ferraz.
Among the challenges for the new community is the encouragement of devotion to the Bom Jesus, and the welcoming of thousands of pilgrims who visit the place. “We want to give life to people who believe in Bom Jesus. We will do it with the joy of the Gospel, announcing plentiful redemption to all those who pass through the Shrine of Pirapora,” said Father Rodrigo.
In addition to the care of the Diocesan Shrine, the Redemptorist Missionaries will also take responsibility for the activities of the parish of the Bom Jesus, four other urban communities and two others in the process of formation.
The installation ceremony of the new pastor and formal welcome of the Redemptorist Missionaries will take place on Friday, April 6th. At 7 p.m. they will be welcomed at the “Portal dos Romeiros”, a hill that pays homage to the pilgrims. At 8 p.m., the missionary service of the Redemptorists at the Shrine will begin with a Mass.
A devotion of almost three centuries – the devotion to the Lord, Bom Jesus of Pirapora – began in 1725, when an image of Jesus scourged and crowned with thorns was found in the waters of the river Tietê by a man residing in the neighborhood of Pirapora. He took it to his home, where he became a domestic devotee. Over time, many other people were attracted to the image. Stories of miracles in the room where the image was venerated were already documented by 1825.
In 1887, the Chapel of Bom Jesus received the status of Diocesan Sanctuary. Ten years later, the church was became the headquarters of the parish of Pirapora. To this day the altar of the Sanctuary has the image found almost 300 years ago, which can be seen and visited by all the pilgrims.
Victor Hugo Barros
(Translated by Joe Dorcey)