in ACN BENEFACTORS, ACN International, ACN PROJECTS, Adapted by Amanda Bridget Griffin, Brazil, TRAINING
Formation for 28 seminarians in the diocese of Marília
Brazil still holds onto its place as the most populous Catholic nation on earth. Yet, the percentage of Catholics in the country continues to fall.
Today, only around 72% of over 190 million Brazilians still declare themselves as Catholic, though the exact figures quoted are very general. What is however clear is that this number is declining drastically. A myriad of other sectarian churches have sprung up and continue to proliferate. People tend to be seduced by unrealistic promises of rapid wealth, health or the fulfillment of their dreams.
Over 35,000 of these “free churches” exist now. Many people fall easy prey to their promises, especially the disillusioned and uprooted impoverished people in the shantytowns on the edges of the big cities. Many who have come here from areas in the Northeast of the country afflicted by sometimes years of drought, unable to feed their families in their home areas. Their hopes and dreams for a better life in the big city – are bitterly disappointed. After spending the last of their money travelling to the much hoped-for “Promised Land,” they can count themselves lucky if they find work. Most end-up unemployed, leading them into a vicious spiral downwards of family breakups, addictions and violence.
Priests available for all!
Hence the Catholic Church is faced with massive challenges, above all since – in relation to the size of the country and the still very large number of the Catholic faithful – there are far too few priests. The parishes are often huge, with many having up to 100,000 parishioners. And so one of the biggest challenges for the local Church is the promotion of vocations. For where there are no priests, the people are easily drawn away by sectarian groups, churches or religious associations who offer dreams, but very little in terms of concrete ways to rise out of their situation with a sense of dignity.
In the diocese of Marìlia in the state of São Paulo there are 28 young men currently preparing for ordination to the priesthood. The diocese is huge, covering an area of almost 11,980 km², and is divided into 61 parishes. 729,000 Catholic faithful live here, so that on average each parish has close on 12,000 parishioners. And yet there are just 57 diocesan priests working here. So every new vocation is greatly needed. The young men training at the seminary must be more than priests – they must become good priests. What they require is over and above a solid academic formation. They need to be intensively prepared and accompanied on the spiritual and human plane, while at the same time gaining real and practical insight into pastoral work by visiting the parishes, the Catholic social care centres and institutions and making themselves useful while acquiring real hands-on experience.
We are supporting the diocese with $10,150 towards the cost of their formation. Would you like to support seminarians like this? In Brazil or elsewhere? Give us call! or click the ‘donate’ button below!