The joy of being a missionary

photo by Juan Ribeiro

An interview by Brenda Melo, published in Akikolá, July 2022

Br. Alan Patrick Zuccherato, C.Ss.R., Redemptorist Missionary of the Province of São Paulo, speaks about the identity of the Redemptorist Brother. The presenter and director of programming for TV Aparecida in Brazil also reveals the challenges of communication in the mission to evangelize.

What is the identity of the Redemptorist Brother?

The identity of the Redemptorist Brother is in him, who is a religious, consecrated and lives this missionary experience in the Congregation, choosing to be a Brother. A fundamental element that characterizes him is to be a living memory of fraternity in the community. In the history of the Congregation, from the beginning with Saint Alphonsus, the Brothers were present. When St. Alphonsus and his companions began the Institute in 1732 in Italy, the one who persevered with Alphonsus was a Brother, Brother Vito Curzio. When the Dutch Redemptorists came to Brazil in the Province of Rio, the Brothers were with them. The group of Germans who arrived in Aparecida (SP) and Trindade (GO) were also composed of Fathers and Brothers. So, the figure of the Brother is to remember this presence of brotherhood. We cannot forget: our consecration is for the fraternity! Constitutions 55 of our Rule of Life says: it is by Religious Profession that we become Redemptorist Missionaries!

Within the Congregation, would this be the principal mission of the Brothers?

Without a doubt! To generate fraternity in the heart of the community, to consecrate ourselves each day to fraternity, to be that living memory! Now, when we look at the past and today, we see possibilities that are widening for the presence and the pastoral activity of the Brother. What counts for a Redemptorist, whether Father or Brother, is not doing but BEING a missionary. In the past, the Brother was the one who served within the community, sewing the habit, working in the kitchen, at the door, and in the garden? Brothers who sanctified themselves in this way of life. Today, the Brother has the possibility of studying other fields according to his gifts and the needs of the Congregation, preparing himself to serve well. Currently, we have Brothers with degrees in Nursing, Communications, Theology, Mariology, Administration, etc.

What is the difference between a brother and a priest?

The difference lies precisely in the ministerial aspect. By choice, the Brother does not want to be a priest. He can study Philosophy and Theology and choose to be a Redemptorist in the Congregation as a Brother. What counts for us is “being” a Redemptorist Missionary; Father or Brother will be the consequence of the mission; it does not make anyone more qualified in the ministerial matter. What unites us is much greater, but the difference is in this aspect. The Brother does not celebrate Mass or hear confessions since he has not received the sacrament of Orders. But he may preach, lead a celebration, visit a sick person, serve within the community, etc. As Redemptorist missionaries, there is no difference.

Like St. Gerard, the excellent example of a Redemptorist Brother, a brother can serve in the community and be a fraternity’s presence! But he can also study and make a beautiful, formative journey. This is our Congregation open in these new times, also qualifying Redemptorist Brothers for mission!

Let us now speak a little about communication, an area in which you are also involved! What is the role of the Communications Media in the mission of Redemptorist Missionaries?

From ancient times, in our Congregation and looking at the disciples of Jesus, using all possible means so that the Gospel may reach further has always been a practice. Before all means, each person is already communication. Our Congregation is essentially missionary and to use the means of communication is to make sure that everyone receives the proclamation of the plentiful redemption, a proclamation of salvation, a good word; it is to bring a word of hope! But it is not only speaking, as Pope Francis urged us in his message for this year’s World Communications Day; it is knowing how to listen to others. And not just any listening! It is listening with the ear of the heart. In this synodal journey that our Church is living, how much we need the means of communication! Through them, we want to make the message of the Gospel of Jesus reach further; this is our mission! Radio Aparecida, which has been in existence for 71 years, is a great example of the catechesis of the Brazilian people through the means of communication. Vítor Coelho, who communicated in a simple, missionary way, had a valuable team, had special attention to the faith, catechesis, missionary preaching and also a concern for health.

What is the greatest challenge in evangelizing through the media?

Today, in a context of so much polarisation, the media want to guarantee democracy. Looking inside the Church, we see the divisions, the fake news. We want to use the media to bring a true word that liberates. The changes are very fast and to carry this word that God loves you and loves you well is a challenge. And we are talking to many people who no longer believe, but we cannot stop announcing these truths of the faith. The media have a very important role in this formation of critical, religious, missionary and prophetic consciousness, without which we will not succeed in communicating in synergy, ecclesial unity and in the spirit of our Congregation: Redemptorists for a saving action!

How do you see Redemptorist communication with the process of restructuring?

Without communication, we will not make this restructuring happen. As the old Chacrinha used to say: “Those who don’t communicate are caught in the dark”. How many means did Jesus, the perfect communicator, use?! And he did not do it alone! This spirit necessarily goes through conversion of mentality and of heart. For this conversion to occur, it is necessary to communicate and relate to others. Our missionary work is essentially communitarian!

You are part of the Sub-commission of Media of the new Redemptorist Unit RJ-SP-BA (Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Bahia). Could you tell us about the activities of the group?

The Media Subcommittee was created in 2019 and is made up of myself – Br Alan (São Paulo Province), Fr Vilmar (Vice Province of Bahia), Fr Sérgio (Rio Province) and Fr Rosivaldo (Vice Province of Bahia), representing the Central Commission. Since then, the group has held meetings in person and online.

For 2022, an Encounter of the Media of the three Units (RJ-SP-BA) is planned from 26 to 29 September in Aparecida.

Reconfiguring is the figure I make with the other again! How is this reconfigured in our hearts? During the Sub-commission for the Media meetings, we pointed out three fundamental aspects. The first is to make ourselves known, where we surveyed all the means of communication in our Units to provide interaction. Knowing our confreres and laypeople in charge of communication, we want to point out directions. Thinking of a reflection: what are the new tendencies in Evangelization through the media, what do our Redemptorist media need to know, and what cannot fail for the proclamation of Jesus?

How is your work at Aparecida TV?

I arrived at the TV in 2019 when the Provincial Superior, Fr Marlos, asked me to join the Board of Directors, and I am currently in the position of Programming Director. I accepted the proposal because we have a fantastic team of lay people with technical competence to work and learn with them everything new in this area. The Council, formed by the Redemptorist brothers, meets weekly to consider the direction of the Aparecida Network of Communication (radio, TV and the A12 website), where we exchange experiences and plan actions.

The Programming Department of TV Aparecida is connected to everything that makes up the programming schedule: thinking about programs, receiving new proposals, including commercials, videography, merchandising, etc. Everything that we put on air, we need to analyze in three aspects: audience, billing and prestige.

It is a challenge and an enormous responsibility! TV Aparecida has in its mission, vision and values the aspect of celebrating the faith daily and having the pleasure of being with the viewers. After all, the missionary mark is a joy! We cannot forget that our work is communitarian, and we have an evangelizing commitment.

What message do you leave for the readers of AKIKOLÁ?

I wish you happiness in your lives and choices. In these challenging times we face with the pandemic and the various wounded realities, the word is of hope! The Word of God tells us: “Hope does not disappoint, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts” (Rom 5:5). So it is with courage, courage and positive thinking that I wish you, dear reader, to go forward on your journey. Trust in God and in Our Lady’s protection, step by step, always going forward, even if the contrary winds come. Remember: after the storm comes the calm! In this spirit of trust, we will know how to live well. That is very characteristic of the Redemptorist Popular Holy Missions: united in Christ, with Mary, to live and grow in community, building a more fraternal world for all.

Brenda Melo

Courtesy of Akikolá, July 2022

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