The Province of Rio has a new Shrine


A special chapter was written in the history of St. Joseph’s Church. The church founded by the Redemptorists of the Rio Province more than 120 years ago, one of the oldest in the capital city of the state Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, became the Archdiocesan Sanctuary of St Joseph. The celebration that marked the creation of the new Shrine took place on March 19, Feast of St. Joseph, presided by the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Belo Horizonte, Monsignor Walmor Oliveira de Azevedo, and concelebrated by Redemptorist Missionaries and priests of the Archdiocese.

The solemn ceremony of elevation to the sanctuary of St. Joseph will take place on June 29, together with the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Province of Rio de Janeiro.

St. Joseph Church, Belo Horizonte, source: Akikolá, April 2021

In this interview, Fr. José Cláudio Teixeira, C.Ss.R., now rector of the Sanctuary, speaks of how the Redemptorist Missionaries welcomed the announcement, especially in this Year dedicated to St. Joseph.

How did the Redemptorist Community receive the news of the elevation of the Church to Shrine?

The Redemptorist Community has received this news with great affection. We all know that St. Joseph Church, located in the heart of Belo Horizonte, is a Church embraced by the people, and in a special way, by the simplest people. Therefore, the joy of realizing and feeling that our parishioners really liked this title: Archdiocesan Sanctuary of Saint Joseph.

What is taken into consideration for a parish to be elevated to Shrine?

In the first place, the service rendered there. A way of evangelizing that our people like. Secondly, where people feel attracted and make this Church their place of devotion and pilgrimage. I believe that in third place comes the spirituality of our Patron Saint Joseph. Welcoming, courageous man who knew how to listen in his dreams to the voice of God. And how our people need to dream!

Tell us about the temple dedicated to St. Joseph in the heart of Belo Horizonte, which stands out not only for its beauty but also for its welcome.

Yes, St. Joseph’s Church, now a Sanctuary, speaks for itself. It was a gift that the Dutch priests left for us and for the city of Belo Horizonte. Here people feel welcomed. The church, with its architecture and painting, invites us to pray. It is a place of encounter with God and with oneself.

In 120 years of foundation, what has been the learning and the evolution of the work done by the Redemptorists in the capital of Minas Gerais?

I believe that what we have learned is to go from a Church that offers sacraments to a Church that lives the sacraments. We have several pastorals and movements; all of them are full of great vivacity. Those who arrive here know they will be welcomed; the architecture itself welcomes the faithful. Another lesson is the sacrament of confession. The faithful know that mercy is abundant here. The Redemptorist Missionary has to be inserted in reality to offer our people wise words to offer our people words of wisdom and relief for the heart. I can say that we are learning every day to be more welcoming and helpful to everyone.

In this Year of St. Joseph, what does Pope Francis propose, and what does Mary’s spouse teach us in these difficult times?

In his beautiful letter “With a Father’s Heart,” Pope Francis teaches us to “see” St. Joseph, to perceive his qualities. A man who lived through so many anguishes but who always listened to God’s voice and had courage. I believe that the greatest teaching is hope and trust. In these pandemic times, we need these qualities. Saint Joseph is a saint of incredible lucidity.

In what way will the Shrine live the Jubilee Year of Saint Joseph?

We are preparing a booklet about the history of St. Joseph Church, a video telling the beauties of our Shrine, a presentation of several songs about St. Joseph, a documentary about the Church and the stories of our faithful. I believe that during the course of the year, other beautiful situations will be created and appreciated. We are also called to live the tripod that makes up a Shrine: evangelization (spirituality), spiritual and religious culture, and the dynamics of serving (welcoming).

Brenda Melo

courtesy: Akikolá, April 2021

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