February 16, 2009
Hammers, Nails, Mercy: How we help the least of our brothers in Brazil
By Fr. José Fernando Manguer, MIC
Saint Anthony Parish in Brazil, where I serve as pastor, has long tried to embrace the ideal that “mercy is love that seeks to lessen the misery of others.” I am pleased to report that in the past year our parish was able to lessen the misery of two of our community’s poorest families by constructing houses for them. We were also able to help two other families in need.
The idea for our works of mercy began in July. We had many people participate at a blessing of more than 500 cars in a parade day in front of our church. We were able to raise money that day for parish initiatives. I met with our parish council, and together we agreed to use this money to help those in greatest need.
We built the first house for Geni and Sebastiao Herculano. They and their five children had been living a small room in a slum after their former house was destroyed by fire in early March. Moreover, Sebastiao has been in a very bad health. For them, the new home was a gift from God!
We built the second house for Agostinho and Maria. They have a son, 13. They were all living in squalor in a slum, protected from the elements only by means of a black plastic sheet. View the photo gallery and see where they are living now. What a difference we can make when we respond with love to the needs of others!
In addition, in 2008, our parish also made a donation of building materials (roof, cement, iron, and sand) for a third house built by a poor family. We also made a financial donation to a family who had lost their means of livelihood. The man of the house is a truck driver. Last year, thieves stole his new truck. He was left with no truck, but he had to continue paying for it. Our financial support helped him pay for it.
I share these stories not to pat us on the back. I share them to inspire others to perform similar works of mercy in their own community — particularly for those in greatest need. Jesus told St. Faustina, “I demand from you deeds of mercy, which are to arise out of love for Me. You are to show mercy to your neighbors always and everywhere. You must not shrink from this or try to excuse or absolve yourself from it” (Diary of St. Faustina, 742).
I continually thank God and my Marian superiors for allowing me to work in such a parish. I also thank God for the many people who have joined our parish for Holy Mass and others activities.
God bless all of them!
Father José Fernando Manguer, MIC, was ordained a priest in 1993. His parish, St. Anthony, is located in Manoel Ribas, Parana, Brazil.