SMIC

Saint Dulce of the Poor

      Canonization Date to be Announced 

 

Sister Dulce (1914-1992) was a member of the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God (SMIC). She was born in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil where she was known as the Good Angel of Bahia.

Her baptismal name was Maria Rita de Souza Brito Lopes Pontes. Daughter of Augusto Lopes Pontes, dentist and professor at the Federal University of Bahia and of Dulce Maria de Souza Brito Lopes Pontes. From childhood Sister Dulce wanted to follow Jesus Christ by being a consecrated Religious. On February 8 1932, she became a primary school teacher and in the following year entered the Congregation of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God in São Cristóvão, Sergipe, Brasil.

In 1934, she professed her religious vows becoming a Sister and receiving the name of Sister Dulce, in honor of her mother. Returning to Salvador, as a Sister, her first mission was to teach in a school of the religious congregation.

In 1936, at 22 years of age, Sister Dulce founded the St. Francis Workers’ Union together with Friar Hildebrando Kruthaup. Another creation of Sr. Dulce was St. Anthony School for workers and their families. Also important was her participation in creating a hostel for the sick, located in the convent of St. Anthony’s old chicken coup which later was transformed into a hospital , today, the Social Works of Sr. Dulce”.

Sr. Dulce dedicated her life to the service of the poorest. She would gather the sick she met in the streets and tended to their wounds. She had a great passion for Jesus Christ and because of this saw Him in the image of those needy persons. Her great merit was to listen and to attend the calls of God. If, it was necessary for her to disobey whatever rule or norm that was not favorable to attending such persons who needed to be welcomed, cared for and compassion. She is considered by many as an illumined soul which God sent to the earth to show his love to his creatures. Sr. Dulce had a fragile health but had a vibrant soul very strengthened in the Christian faith. She knew whom she served and was clear about the mission she received, for this reason she fulfilled it with dedication, self- giving and love.

On May 14th, 2019, the Holy See informed us that the Holy Father, Pope Francis recognized one more miracle attributed to the intercession of Sr. Dulce of the poor, beatified in May of 2011 in Brazil. The miracle took place with a blind person who asked the help of Sr. Dulce and was given sight. For this, Sr. Dulce will be proclaimed a saint by the Catholic Church. The date has not been communicated as yet, but the decree of canonization was signed by Pope Francis at the Vatican on May 13th, 2019.
Sister Dulce will be the first saint born in Brazil, the country with the most number of catholics in the world.
We are GRATEFUL to God for the legacy of love to the poor, left us by our founders, Bishop Amandus and Mother Immaculata. This legacy which Sr. Dulce, faithful to the call of God, lived it day to day. Our SMIC Religious family is grateful to God for all that He has realized to humanity through the Social Works of Sr.Dulce!
In praise to Christ, We rejoice always in the Lord!

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New Leadership, USA

 

On the weekend of May 3rd, 2019 the US SMICs met in Denville, NJ to discuss their future 3 year journey now as a UNIT (instead of a province) of the Congregation. The meeting took us through tender memories of the past and to thoughtful ways that collectively we can continue to respond to the urgent issues of the day,.

The Unit decided to continue with the same two hot issues that remain challenging for these times: immigration and care for our planet. Aside from these issues, the Unit also commits itself to responding to the Congregational issues discussed at the 2016 Chapter: unity in diversity, integration of Franciscan prayer, ministry beyond borders, ecological conversion.

Beyond listening to administrative reports, the Sisters heard from Sr. Janice who shared her visit to Honduras in March with an interfaith group to consider the Root Causes for Hondurans seeking asylum in our Country.. Janice was accompanied by Associate Norah Nolan Cramer on a Skype extension who also related her experiences. The Sisters actively had many questions and offerings focusing on what we can do here in the USA to respond to this challenge. During the last day of the gathering, the SMIC community prayed a blessing over Janice who will be representing the collective commitment by presenting her findings to governmental officials, parishes and other groups.

A new leadership team was elected with Sr. Kate Conti as Unit leader, and Sisters’ Saundra McKeta and Janice Jolin as team members. The community blessed them followed by hugs of appreciation sending them forward to serve.

 

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Angola visit 2019

EXPERIENCE  IN  ANGOLA

Blessed are the poor in spirit, because the Kingdom of God belongs to them.”     (Mt 5,3)                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                    It is with joy that I share with you my feeling of gratitude to God and to the Congregation for the opportunity to know Angola and to have together with our Sisters the experience with those suffered people and favored of God.

A visitor to Africa does not return the same. This is how I felt after some days of experience in the city of Malanje, next to Katepa, where our Sisters are present.

I had the grace to stay with our Sisters and to participate and share closely in their community life in their domestic works, prayer life, socialization. Daily Eucharistic celebrations are the way they celebrate in life, faith, resistance, authenticity, courage and confidence.  Each day the women arrived especially very early at the church with their children on their back, to pray the rosary, sing many songs and have moments of personal prayer.

The Saint Anthony School, administered by our Sister Marivalda is an arduous work, but gratifying because the Sisters carry through the mission to educate, a task which was entrusted to us by our founders Bishop Amando and Mother Immaculata.  It was gratifying to participate in “the Campaign” a day in which  classes are suspended and each child brings her/his hoe, duster, bucket, basin, broom to clean the external area of the school. This morning activity was a time of much interaction with students and the educative community.  In the afternoon, we worked with the teachers on the theme Emotional Intelligence. The methodology used  was a circle chat about the feelings and the qualities of each one in order to better relate with oneself and with others.

Another experience was the visit and the participation in the Sunday Celebrations in the Villages with the Sisters and the Priests. It was a strong event for fraternity and participation in the midst of a reality of much poverty, illness and lack of the basic sanitation. It touches our heart to see hundreds of children without one toys, the necessary food for their good development, education, health and their rights as  children. Oftentimes they are children taking care of children.

I give thanks to God and to each Sister who contributed to my staying in Angola during those days.

                                                                                                        Sister Lioneide Brito

 

A very moving memory came to my mind when I arrived in Angola this year. I remembered that Sr. Veronica Lee, as soon as she entered the house of our sisters, in 2013, she said: “Africa entered my life too late.” I agree with her. For some of us Angola Mission came too late, but for the congregation, it is a “kairos”, the time of God’s grace. I think that Angola Mission is a SMIC dream that became true. I still remember our discussions about a new beginning in terms of mission during events we took part when we celebrated 100 years of history. I can say that our mission in Angola is just the new beginning we dreamed about because of some elements that from my understanding were clearly present in Santarém, in 1910.

The first element is poverty. The reality of poverty that the population is submitted in Malange is something that breaks our hearts. When I looked to those kids, some of them with exposed wounds and wearing old chothes, and paid attention to their way of looking at us, I could not close my heart and turn my face aside. I let them move the best side of myself in terms of compassion and capacity of becoming a better human being. I think this was the feeling that moved Bishop Bahlmann, Mother Immaculada and the group of Sisters when they arrived in Santarém. Experiencing that extreme poverty, I recalled a prayer from Gandhi that inspires me very much:  “I only ask God do not let me be indifferent to my brothers and sisters that in poverty are living.”

The second element is a simple lifestyle. The sisters that embrace Angola Mission must make an option for a very simple lifestyle. There is no other way of living among the poor. I also could see the examples of other consecrated men and women from other congregations living there. This is the Gospel way and also the inspiration that moved our founders at the beginning in Santarém. Our priorities are not ourselves, but those to whom we are sent to serve.

The third element is to be always ready to serve. Readiness is something that demands a great deal from those who freely get themselves immersed in a reality like Malange. It is impossible to close the arms or sleep quietly when you hear that someone is dying or when someone knocks the door with the body burning in high fever. How to close the ears when someone asks for a glass of water or when a child calls your name? It is simply impossible for those who have a heart of flesh. I saw how our sisters quickly got up and responded to the needs of people who looked for some help in different areas. Was not this kind of situation that characterized the first years of the young community in Santarém?

Summing up, to serve in Angola as a missionary, we need to make a clear option to open ourselves to face extreme poverty, to embrace a simple lifestyle and to exercise our readiness to serve those who can not wait. They challenge us to give priority to themselves. Because of the urgency of the poor, who cry out for justice, dignity and life in abundance, we need to learn how to deal with our cultural differences as SMIC, in order to live out our beautiful and exciting, but also challenging and difficult charism. This dream that inspired so many sisters before us must continue throughout history.

   Sister Silvia Corado do Amoral, SMIC

 

 

 

 

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A pilgrimage in Honduras

 

 

 

 

 

 

SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT MY HONDURAN PILGRIMAGE EXPERIENCE

As one of the 75 interfaith pilgrims whose mission was to examine Root Causes of Hondurans seeking refuge at our Borders I am now ready to speak in a spirit of truth and hope which is born of local Honduran communities living with unimaginable danger having the creative imagination and the courage to believe in the power of nonviolent action. I am humbled to be in solidarity with them and to help raise the volume of their strong voices.

Before our faith members were divided into three groups to experience our unique journey we met at Radio Progresso to hear of the history of the resilient people of Honduras.  The radio ministry headed by Jesuit priest Fr. Melo, broadcasts the stories of people struggling for justice and lives of dignity – countering the violence of the state, powerful companies and international interests. In addition, Fr. Melo directs a group of monitors of human rights violations who accompany threatened communities to prevent more killing.  Fr. Melo is one of many who receive death threats for expositions of injustice.

We witnessed creative nonviolent strategies being used by countless individuals and by almost every community and organization we met. For example,

  • In the City of San Pedro Sula, we heard from the organized communities of San Ysidro and Colonia Alemania who are pursuing every legal route possible to stay on their land; one woman in San Ysidro simply sat with her children on the construction equipment waiting to level their houses as the whole community was threatened with expulsion.
  • Women, who are the backbone of almost every movement for justice in Honduras, have formed effective networks, including the Women’s Forum composed of eight groups. One is known as  Tejedores de Suenos (Dreamweavers) whose objective is to nurture the self-esteem of women as they claim their basic right to dignity and respect, pushing back intimate as well as public violence.  Another supports an active LGBTQ network to make those who identify as LGBTQ more visible in Honduran society and thus less vulnerable to threats or assassination and created and still another is The Alternatives to Violence program introduced into the City prison where prisoners themselves are trained to facilitate the program.
  • Sisters of Mercy, School Sisters of Notre Dame and their co-workers love the children of violence back to life, helping to heal the traumas and push back the violence, including of gangs, that threaten to overwhelm.
  • In the rural area of Santa Barbara the Lenca indigenous women are fighting for Mother Earth. Through art, symbols, stories, and political declarations they keep their struggles vibrant, remembering, as a source of inspiration and motivation, those who gave their lives in that struggle.

 

Our group visited one of the Border Communities of San Pedro Sula a city of about 100,000 people.  Here, thirty families near a small body of running water and in the shadow of high-rise luxuriant condos. Clean clothes on the line and babies are in the arms of their caregivers are  signs that life goes on here even while Grandparents care for the children of their sons and daughters who have gone North hoping to provide a better life for their families. Armed guards have threatened them, sprayed them with tear gas, and pulled the little pieces of used  furniture from their homes. People with more power and influence want a parking area for those in the condos. The community stands firm.

Others heard the stories of the Water Defenders and the way they show up to protect the land and the rivers even when their lives are at risk. The amazing thing about these conversations is what we learned: defending the water is not a job that only a few can do. It is work that all of us need to do. We saw that the whole community organizes around and engages this work every single day. They find their strength as they organize and they told us that our solidarity was an important way for us to encourage them as they continue the struggle.

Those visiting La Presa, and Bajo Aguan, were witness to the multiple forms that violence can take. They heard about assassinations and death threats to human rights workers and water protectors; cultural violence against indigenous communities, women, and those who identify as LGBTQ; structural violence perpetrated by security forces against communities protecting their land and water; systemic violence of corruption, dehumanizing poverty, and deep economic injustice; gang violence and more.

On the final day of our visit we converged at the capitol city of Tegucigalpa  for a visit to the US Embassy and the Office of Human Rights and held an Ecumenical Rally and Vigil to remember those who remain unjustly incarcerated as well as to continue the fight against impunity and corruption in the government.

 

WHAT OUR HONDURAN BROTHERS AND SISTERS ASK OF US

  • Because of the tremendous violence perpetrated through military and para military forces believing that those who speak out for their rights are terrorists, we are asked to tell our US government to STOP FUNDING MILITARY AID. The people said, we are not in war (neither individually or as a country) so do not send arms.  Due to corruption in Honduras, the arms are sold and often to gang members who also are a threat to our life.
  • We are not criminals though we are assigned this title for standing and speaking for justice.  Solidarity from US citizens is a force that causes our government who depends on the US to know they are being watched for taking actions against human rights.

Also,  Many innocent men are still in jail and need defense but this costs money,  if you can donate, please do so at  Share El Salvador    https://share-elsalvador.networkforgood.com

This non profit group is active in several of the northern central American countries. 

  1. Click DONATE and the site will open to Support El Salvador Communities
  2. then select   “ apply my donation to”  
  3. Scroll down to “donate Honduras Legal Defense Fund”

 

 

Joining the Pilgrimage

From March 18th to 25th,  an interfaith solidarity  Root Causes Pilgrimage has been organized under three sponsors: Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, the Unitarian Interfaith Movement for Human integrity through the Unitarian Church and the SHARE Foundation.  The 70 respondents  from many of the US states and Canada have been in preparation since the beginning of February to pray and reflect on this mission where they are being invited to open their hearts

  • To learn about the root causes of violence and poverty driving people away from their homes
  • To learn about the US government’s role in deepening the humanitarian crisis in Honduras
  • To learn what the Honduran people would like Americans (and other international advocates) to do to support them in their struggle for democracy, rule of law, economic well-being, and protection of those struggling for their rights.
  • To accompany our sisters and brothers in Honduras to express our love and solidarity and to commit ongoing support for them in the spirit of San Romero.
  • To be able to educate your community about the real causes of the mass exodus from Honduras.
  • To be able to educate your Congressional Representatives about the root causes of emigration from Honduras and urge them to support legislation and other policies to stop harming the Honduran people and adhere to US and international law regarding the treatment of asylum seekers.
  • To help change the government and media narrative of border security from blaming those seeking protection to addressing the reasons why people choose the dangerous journey to the US border.

For Sister Janice, the challenge is not expected to be the actual visit and presence she will give to the Honduran people but rather the return commitment to be politically active in defense of the people: “I really don’t like going to visit governmental representatives as I feel so lacking the power of words that can convince those having a hard heart because of  their own personal investments to protect their images in political office.  Nevertheless, I know this is what I must do.” 

Also making this Pilgrimage is Norah Nolan Cramer, SMIC Associate.   Norah has an active ministry in her parish with migrants and an international experience of solidarity with the dispossessed and suffering.

 

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Serving the Elderly in Taiwan

                     SERVICE TO THE NEEDY

Holy Name of Jesus Unit

Service to the Needy! We feel very much honored to be entrusted by the Department of Health of Kaohsiung City Government to set up day care stations for elder people with slight dementia.

We may say that the visible sign of our society today is aged people! And they need special care. Our St. Joseph Hospital is ready to meet this need. In fact before we got the request from the Department of Health, we have had special day care services for the elderly with dementia in our Nursing Home, where the Hospital staff not only kept the aged people indoors, but also coordinated various activities to get them involved, happy and become healthy.

Responding to the request of the Department of Health, we set up two places for this purpose. One is in our St. Joseph Hospital and the other is in Zuoying, the former site of our kindergarten built in 1956, near St. Theresa of the Child Jesus Church. Looking back at the history of service to people in Zuoying, we can see that our apostolic service has been responding to the call of the times. Originally our mission was to take care of the parish Catechism for the children during summer and winter vacations starting in 1952, the kindergarten in 1954, and then a clinic in 1956 in which our German Sister Pacis took care of the clinic and Sister Hilda came over to help from Kaohsiung City twice a week. In the same year, a small St. Theresa convent behind the kindergarten was also built. When those two German Sisters retired and went back to their country, the clinic was closed. Zuoying city has developed. In 1985, the kindergarten was also closed because of the decreasing number of children. Then in 1997 the vacant convent and the kindergarten were renovated and became a social service center – Well Spring Home (康達家園) which was used to take care of abused women and later became   a halfway home for adolescent girls. We ended this social service in June 2016 because more and more there are larger social service institutes taking care of them now around this island.

Then the city’s call for utilizing our vacant space to serve people with dementia came to us. The former administration office of Well Spring Home and the class rooms of the former kindergarten are again renovated into “Happy Living School,” a day care center for  elder people with slight dementia. Now this School is currently providing a different means to help the elderly enjoy life in their golden age and slow down or prevent dementia. Moreover, the School is also used for the family members. It is very important to help, encourage and support those family members who take care of the elderly with dementia, and to provide proper ways of accompanying the old.

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VI SMIC Educational Symposium

 

 

 

 

2018 SMIC Education Symposium

The Sixth SMIC Education Symposium was held between the 24th and 26th of August at Dom Amando Convent in Salvador, Bahia. Collaborators from the following Schools were present: Immaculate Conception, Capela, Sergipe, St. Eufrásia- Barra-Bahia, Vera Cruz- Recife-Pernambuco and Dom Bosco- Itabaiana-Sergipe, with the latter  responsible for the preparation of this Symposium..

The event had as its theme:  SMIC Education: Breakdown walls, construct bridges. Go evangelize

Based on the Year of the Laity, the talks and all the activitives were directed to the mission of evangelization, lay men and women to make the world better. We who are educators need to be involved in this spirit, as we are the collaborators and integral to the formation of our students.

The Symposium clarified and strengthened ideas in relation to our mission as citizen, educator in  collaboration of forming a just and equal society

The days were enriched with learning and joy.  Each speaker offered  a concentration and participants were emotionally involved taking them to real life, their experiences and concerns; the perspective of making a difference.

Within this context, the speaches were inspiring and provoked us to be a transform- ative participant in the school and world.  One can sense that all depends on us, on our professional and Christian responsibility.

We are grateful for the Symposium which we felt was great.  We need to Evangelize!

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Jubilees and Novitiate celebrations

Novices in white veils: Srs. Herta and Christiana

Sr. Elisabeth and Sr. Monika

 

 

 

 

February 3, 2018 was a day of great joy for the Namibian Province in thanksgiving to God for Sr. Elisabeth celebrating her 50 years and Sr. Monika 25years of religious life. On the same day two Postulants Herta and Christiana entered their novitiate. We acknowledge the presence of the different Religious congregations of sisters and priests deacon, lay ministers, youths and our families   who came to share the joy together with us.   It was amazing how young sisters brought the words of God to the altar in beautiful cultural dancing procession. The Church choir of Tses led the Liturgy together with the sisters.  

We were also blessed to have Fr. Joseph, vicar of Keetmanshoop diocese, Fr. Werner Afunde, vicar general from the Archdiocese of Windhoek and Fr. Josef Hatutale and Rev. Emeritus Bishop Philip Pollitzer, the main celebrant. The homily of the bishop was inspiring and very clear “that the jubilee is to look back with gratitude, joy and pride upon the 50 years and 25 years. And that means that our abiding devotion and faithful services to God has touched countless heart and inspired so many. Today is a day of thanksgiving to God, for many graces and perseverance in the Religious vocation and for listening every day to God, saying to me: ”Whom shall I send ? who will go for us? Here I am, Lord, send me to preach your word to the whole world.” (Is 6:8)

Novices: This is day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad. It was really  an unforgettable day where we felt proud to become part of the SMIC family. Therefore our gratitude goes to our sisters who allowed us to take further step in religious life as SMIC. The liturgy dance was lead by candidate, youth and St. Therese parish choir. It was a joyful day. After communion the candidate and the two novices dance thanksgiving dance with the sound of the African drum and that was amazing.

Thanks to our Sisters who made this day wonderful for us. We appreciated everything and please continue praying for us, from Herta Shaningwa and Christiana Stephans.

After the Mass everybody was invited to the Church Hall for delicious meal with barbecue. Thanks to the parishioners who prepared and decorated the Hall so beautifully. As you know, as Africans, our celebration continues always  with the performance of our different cultural dances, singing and beating drums; that was really feast filled with joy and happiness. We thank the Almighty God for the beautiful celebration and gratitude to all who made our day so wonderful with best wishes and prayers.

 

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