Beginning this month, various testimonies from our Communities worldwide will give examples of how the Sisters, in a Vincentian spirit, make public profession of their Faith , as Pope Benedict XVI asked in his Apostolic Letter “Porta Fidei”.
Urged by the Faith of our Founders, the Daughters of Charity arrived in the city of Nova Friburgo, Brazil in 1933. The benefactor who welcomed them asked them not to notice the modest accommodations and said: “this is just a seed, but with the grace of God, it will become an opulent fruit tree”.
Welcoming God’s call, the Sisters began by caring for the elderly and, some years later, people with handicaps. The Daughters maintained the house, overcoming barriers of language, culture, money and everything else one can imagine, sharing sorrows and joys, obstacles and achievements, failures and victories. The presence of the Sisters who lived here left bright traces, marks of Daughters of Charity, totally given to God to serve him in the Poor. Celebrating the Year of Faith, it is possible to look back at the 80 years of service in the Saint Vincent de Paul House of the Poor and feel a “concrete” Faith lived by our Sisters.
“The heart of God beats in this house”, said the bishop of our diocese as he regarded the human fragility in the face of each person we welcome: the handicaps that often disturb our hearts, the abandonment and loneliness that are imprisoned behind the walls of an indifferent society. We can reach only one conclusion: this service is for the Daughters of Charity because it is necessary to be rooted in steadfast Faith.
“Turn the medal and you will see Christ”. With this regard of Faith, we look to transfigure this reality, providing elderly and handicapped people with basic care, a dignified life and hope. Urged by the love of Jesus Crucified, we live this experience of faith in Divine Providence. “Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them” (Mt 6: 28-29).
God provides everything for his beloved ones. When we realize that something is lacking, suddenly someone shows up to donate what is needed. As a Sister used to say “the Providence of God in this house is scandalous!” Fidelity to the spirit of the Company draws benefactors, volunteers and collaborators who are committed to this work of Love. We feel the hand of God leading everyone to live the Faith expressed through affective and effective love of God in the service of the Poor.
We couldn’t talk about the experience of Faith we live at the House of the Poor without mentioning the “miracle of the waters”. In a time of drought, the Sisters prayed with the elderly and handicapped people asking for God’s help. After a few days, Sister Maria Augusta de Souza was called because a calf has fallen into a deep hole. When the Sister reached the calf, she noticed that there was plenty of water. One of the employees went down into the hole and opened a fissure in the ground: the water gushed forth reaching 1 meter in height. Ever since then up to the present, all the water used in the house comes from this source.
“So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (Jm2:17).
Some testimonies from the Sisters:
Sister Angela Cavalcante, 92 years old:
I am very happy here because, through Faith, I see in each handicapped person the alive and loving presence of Jesus Christ. They are happy; they go on tours and have fun. We have many benefactors who are very generous with their donations because of their Faith in Jesus Christ.
Antonia Casas Gomes, 83 years old, resident:
Seeing the work done here, I see that my faith is minimal. We don’t need a book to tell us the history of God or about his presence in the human being, it is enough to look at each one who lives here and then we really see the presence of God.
Mateus Kraemer, Psychologist:
I feel myself very blessed by God for having given me the opportunity to work here. When I first came in, I thought that it was a great professional opportunity, but today, I see it as a great opportunity for my life, a true lesson and an inexplicable source of energy and renewal of my personal life.
This is the Faith we feel and give testimony of here, at the House of the Poor: Christ transfigured in each face. “Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works” (Jm 2:18).
Sister Adriana Aparecida Santos, DC