Brazil: Former Redemptorist seminarians met in Sacramento

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“Salt of the Earth and Light of the World” 

Lay members of the Redemptorist family, former seminarians, religious, oblates and collaborators who live the Alphonsian charism and spirituality took part in the meeting of former seminarians of the Seminary of the Most Holy Redeemer from 26 to 28 April 2024 in Sacramento, Minas Gerais (MG), with more than 30 people present. Under the leadership of Vania Regina Manzan, a team put the event on the municipal agenda in partnership with the Banda Lira do Borá, with more than 25 members, and the Department of Culture, with Dimas da Cruz Oliveira, on a guided tour of the Arraial de Desemboque, the birthplace of cities in the Triângulo Mineiro and home to two baroque churches, as well as Walmor Júlio da Silva, a permanent supporter of ours, working with the participants on theatre plays and the text “The Statute of Man”, by Thiago de Mello. 

Having heard what it meant to each of them, we note that for Claudio Eustaquio da Silva, “the message of the Gospel remained, ‘abide in me’ and as Redemptorists, we have not escaped this commitment”; Joao Batista Rosa, “the charism of St Alphonsus has been configured for us and through action in society, we have transformed ourselves today into full and conscious citizens”; For José Roberto Amatangelo, “the importance of being together is to socialise, making us more human”; Jose Adalto Paceli de Oliveira, “it’s a word of encouragement and perseverance”; Sebastião Cassimiro Filho, “the meeting recharges our energy, the friendship of Redemptorist life and stronger group prayer”. 

Monsignor Messias dos Reis Silveira, Bishop of Teófilo Otoni-MG, said that “it is one of the graces that God has in store for us after having had the joy of living in the seminary in the past, there is something that unites everyone through the fraternity inspired by the family of the Redemptorist Missionaries, to strengthen the bonds of social friendship, to come into contact with the life and witness of the brothers who have lived before and after us the experience that God once allowed us to live as seminarians, with an atmosphere of fraternity, spirituality and hope among all and that in the testimonies of each one, we can say that the seminary has borne fruit, where some have become ordained ministers and many are inserted into society living the Christian life in the strength of baptism, being salt of the earth and light of the world (Mt 5:13-14)”. 

For Jose Carlos Tadeu, “Sacramento represents a place of reunion with friends and memories that won’t leave us, of a past that we insist on not forgetting.” Claudia Bernardes Almeida Rosa, wife of Luiz Antônio, one of the organisers, said that “it was gratifying to take part in the preparation and organisation of the event and to share with her husband those moments lived in the seminary and to pray with all of them”.  

Lucia Helena Bernadelli, Valdair Bernardeli’s wife, mentioned the “importance of helping with the meetings. It’s the joy that remains, seeing friends from the time they lived together, and she’s happy to help with next year’s meeting.” Dimas da Cruz Oliveira, the cultural advisor, mentioned his immense joy in taking part in the meeting and giving the group the opportunity to present local cultural aspects. 

Ronan H. Borba says, “Being with people who have the same experience as me made me realise that I’m not alone on this journey.” Jose C. Leite says, “It was excellent to meet up with friends and reminisce about the good times we had. He highlights the visit to the village of Desemboque, the game, and the reflection that followed.” 

Oralda Manzan, who, with her family, offered support to the seminarians while she was in formation at the seminary and in the Pastoral Coordination of Rural Catholic Communities, said that “the reading of Sunday’s Gospel was important, given the need to “stand firm today on the trunk of the tree”. She pointed out that she always wants to do what she has done with great pleasure and will continue to support her as long as God gives her life, without mentioning that of the seminarians who worked with her, five became priests, and one became a bishop, Bishop Messias”. 

Jonival Cortes, President of the National Union of Former Redemptorist Seminarians (UNESER), said, “it was a moment very rich in sharing and emotions, a missionary meeting of great significance and a renewal of the Alphonsian enthusiasm that surrounds us. Father João Batista de Almeida, CSsR, was introduced as the new Spiritual Director, bringing enthusiasm, dynamism and a firm Redemptorist spirituality. The prayer of the holy rosary sung on Friday and the penitential act, the walk on Saturday, the theatre performance and the Mass in the Rosary Church on Sunday, celebrated by Bishop Messias and concelebrated by Father João Batista, were noteworthy”.

 

Father João Batista de Almeida, Spiritual Director of UNESER and of the Redemptorist Social Works/CAS (Centre for Social Assistance), told us that “every meeting is good because it brings new perspectives, life is renewed and in meetings, there is always the prospect of the new that always emerges, generates life that perpetuates.” When asked about his mission at UNESER and CAS within the spirituality of Saint Alphonsus, he told us that “he was a man who was always concerned about the human being” and that for many, many years, he systematically went to the hospital for the incurable to relieve their pain, even though he knew that there was no prospect of transformation there, making his contribution to alleviating that reality, the pain of those people, which is the spirit that created the missionary congregation. 

“I believe that in my current role, these two realities come together, accompanying those who have passed through our seminaries, who continue to be Redemptorists, in the work they do and, at the same time, accompanying the work of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer itself, which in various places assists people who are vulnerable and at risk, providing them with a little dream and hope.” 

Following the Redemptorist vocation prayer for this year, in gratitude for the meeting, we can pray: “Lord Jesus, sent by the Father and Anointed by the Holy Spirit, who makes our feet set out on the road, help us to discern the grace of your call and the urgency of the mission, and may we be able to dream and give ourselves with generosity and vigour to the service of the Kingdom, in your Church and the world, and may vocations to lay ministries be strengthened”. 

Vicente de Paula Alves – UNESER (National Union of Former Seminarians of Brazil and Latin America)