Raising Awareness The Paolo Freire Way

By Ariel Presbitero

The Chaos of Ignorance

Pedro Alves, 60 years old

Pedro Alves, 60 years old, spent most of his life in the farm. Planting beans, rice, fruit trees and vegetables was his world. His bare hands knew exactly what his family needed by the use of a hoe. He never imagined that outside his farm is the advancement of human technology. Education, he knows, is as important as planting beans. But school is not available in a remote place like Belem de Sao Francisco, 485 km. from the capital Recife. How to survive becomes the biggest challenge in his life – land, seeds, water and human energy.

Find God in the Noise

By John B. Din

It must have seemed weird to the Brazilians on first meeting me to be greeted by just a handshake or a nod of the usual hug and kiss on the cheek. I know they were surprised to see me eat rice for breakfast, lunch and supper.

John Din is a lay missionary in Brazil. He hails from Zamboanga del Sur, diocese of Pagadian, John is one of 13 brothers and sisters and graduated from the Columban College, Pagadian with a Bachelor of Arts degree major in Psychology. He reflects here on the challenge of the culture of Brazil to him as a Filipino.

The Smile of a Child is worth It

By Fr. Rudy Ramos, CICM


On the playground of Sao Martinho, a six year old child is crying alone. Her name is Luciana but everybody calls her Suru. She has just quarreled with her friends in kindergarten. On her shoulder is the mark of the burns. They told me that year ago her mother had heated a spoon and hit the shoulder of Suru. The mother was drunk. Three years before her husband had left her. 

What is the Color of God?

By Ariel Presbitero

On morning during one of my house visitations I encountered a very interesting question that went like this: “What is the color of God?” I paused and thought a while wondering where was this coming from? I never heard that God has color. As far as I know, I learned from my childhood catechism that man and woman were created by God according to His own likeness and image. It didn’t say what is the color of God. Does God really have a color? Is He white? Black, Brown, Yellow? Is He a mixture of all these colors?

Tread Gently, Lest You Tread on Our Dreams

By Sr. Alice Lansang, ICM

The first law of colonization is: Get the gold – No wonder the original peoples, who were almost totally wiped put by colonists, are still suspicious of foreigners. So Sr. Alice Lansang, coming from a land itself colonized, knew she had to tread gently.

A Dream

When I entered the convent way back in the 60’s, I would often dream of living and working among our mountain people, after the example of our pioneering Belgian sisters. However, the congregation had other plans and needs. It dawned on me that Gods dreams didn’t exactly match mine. Or was it a question of timing? At any rate, I held on to this dream.

100 Million in the World

By Ariel Presbitero

Can you believe it? There are hundred million children living on the streets of the world – a hundred million abandoned children. Brazil is now notorious for its street children – No wonder Ariel Presbitero, Filipino lay missionary, is concerned.

Nothing to Dream For

What has a child to dream for when life is so bleak because of social injustice and there is no hope for the future? I often asked myself this question: How can these abandoned children in the future will stay in this misery, or maybe worse, pass it on to the next generation?

Maria & Evans Signs of Hope

By: Fr. Boy Toledo
Columban Priest Associate

On my weekly visit to Vila Nova- a very poor urban community in the parish of Vila Brasil, seldom do I miss to drop by the houses of Maria and Evans. In fact, they are the very first persons I usually consult if I want some information about recent happenings in the area.

She is a sickly elderly woman who was born in the area. She and her children live with her mother in a very small brick hut. Her inability to earn a living for health reasons I the cause of the perennial complaints of her mother about her church involvement. She is particularly involved with the youngsters Grupo dos Adolescents. Her dedication and fidelity to this group are quite impressive. That is, when she is in the hospital. At times I brought her to the hospital in my car and loaned her some money for medicine. once she visited the casa parpquial and fell in love with the chapel. Despite her condition, Maria is a sign of joy. She always has a ready smile as she extends her bony arm for a handshake. In spite of dire poverty, of hatred and criticism by those close to her, she is a sign of hope to everyone especially to the Gropu dos Adolescents.

Making Haste Slowly

By: Fr. Bart Toledo

The bishop’s advice to me days before my installation as parish of Vila Brasil always echoes in my mind. “Nao precisa correr. Tem que andar devagar. (You don’t have to run. You have to move slowly.

Here I am still moving slowly seven months of being “vigario” of the Paroquia Sao Jose, Vila Brasil, Barreiras.

Lots of Misunderstanding
With my lack of the language and my limited exposure to the parish, I was open to lots of misunderstanding, I was at a loss when a woman came looking for a priest to Baptist a dead child. I never did and never would do such thing for baptism to my understandings is for the living.

The Day the Slaves We’re Freed

By: Ariel Presbitero

My name is Ariel Presbitero. I am a Columban lay missionary in Salvador, Bahia where majority are black people and Africa culture is very strong. It’s necessary to understand it’s historical roots: Slavery.

For example, the Good Friday tradition during Holy Week, in the community where I lived (called Terra Para Todos), the people are aware of the “jejum” (fasting) because it was taught by the first evangelizers. However, in practice it’s a feast (fiesta). With all the typical foods: with red wine, loud music, singing, visiting of houses, dancing and many forms of festivities. I was a bit shocked by these customs on Good Friday. Personally, I think that Good Friday should be a day of prayer, silence and fasting. So this Brazilian tradition surprised me.

Into the Amazon

Greetings of Peace from the Amazon region of Brazil

By: Fr. Noel Octavio, CICM

Just Beginning
I am completing my 10th month in the parish, my second assignment since I arrived last March 1989. This parish is located in the municipality of Itupiranga, state a Para in the Northern region of Brazil.