JOURNEY WITH ACN is our Friday newsletter which will be regularly posted to our blog.
Our weekly newsletter was designed to provide us with an opportunity to acquaint you with the needs of the Catholic Church around the world – and with some of the projects we have been able to realize together with ACN benefactors.
A big thank-you to our benefactors for supporting the construction of a Carmelite convent
Adapted by AB Griffin, ACN Canada
Emeritus Archbishop of Natal, Dom Heitor de Araujo Sales is now 87 years old and has spent his adult-life in service to the Church in the north-east of Brazil, which has always been and continues to be the poorest region of the country. He has witnessed it for 30 years as a priest and 15 years as Bishop of Caicó; and finally the last10 years as Archbishop of Natal.
The Archbishop retired officially in 2003, but retirement is hardly the right term to use as he has given no indication of choosing to rest. He believes he is, so to speak, the “guardian angel” of his former archdiocese of Natal and continues to manage numerous projects.
One project which he holds especially dear to his heart is one for the Carmelite Sisters who first settled in the area at his own request. Theirs is the first, and so far, the only contemplative convent in the archdiocese, and it was the archbishop‘s heartfelt wish to persuade these contemplative Sisters to establish themselves in Natal.
While still Bishop of Caicó at that time, Dom Heitor witnessed how greatly the people love the contemplative Sisters. He recalls the story of a woman who once visited the convent and afterwards said to a friend, who had not been there: “You just don’t know what you missed!”
Dom Heitor has observed a “great hunger for God” among the people. As it is, a great many of the Catholic faithful attend Sunday Mass at the convent of the Carmelite Sisters in Natal, and the chapel becomes completely overcrowded.
Initially, the small community of five sisters was temporarily housed in the former minor seminary. But very soon the building was bursting at its seams and because of this, the Carmelites were unable to accept any new vocations for lack of space even though there were already seven young women waiting to enter the convent and join their community.
Space for the Sisters to work in was scarce, which made it difficult for them to work to support themselves. Apart from one sewing machine in one tiny room, they had no other earning opportunities. They wished to start up a candlemaking workshop in order to be more autonomous and less in need of outside donations.
ACN was able to help these Carmelite Sisters with a contribution of $ 124,000 to build a new convent.
The Sisters would like to say thank you to all our benefactors and those that made it possible!