Vulnerable and Happy Servants

Monday March 25, 2024

BRAZIL. Since March 11th, the Chevalier family of Brazil met in the city of Aparecida, state of São Paulo, to experience the Chevalier Congress, an activity where they reflected on the life of our founder. Likewise, members of the MSC mission from Paraguay and Ecuador participated.

During these days, the family spirit was part of all the lived moments. The speakers, who were there every day, delved into some aspects of Chevalier’s life and in the afternoons, the participants met in groups, in workshops, in which they discussed and reflected on some aspects related to the founder of our family and how it could be related to their own lives.
This Congress, this event, had more than a year of preparation, and more than 100 people participated and joined the spirit of communion and family in all the celebrations that took place around the world.

200th Anniversary Celebration Brazil

On the first day, we had the presentation of Monsignor Antônio Carlos Cruz Santos, MSC, Diocesan Bishop of Caicó – RN, who rescued the history of Chevalier, showing the historical context he lived in the 19th century and the challenges he had to face. For Monsignor Antônio, Chevalier’s current situation is to see that he was a man of his time, which leads us to assume the reality of our time. And this results in having your eyes open, as the founder of our family had, to see the evils that plague our humanity. When contemplating Jesus crucified and pierced, Chevalier saw that from his open side, the remedy to fight the world’s evils came out. And we are called to continue his legacy.

On the second day, it was the opportunity of Sr. Fabilene Santos Castro, FDNSC general counsellor, who spoke of Fr. Chevalier like a man with a burning heart. For the religious woman, to live these days of Congress is to be empowered by a spirituality and to look for tools that respond to the screams and calls of our time. For her, Fr. Chevalier made an itinerary from the devotion to the Sacred Heart and experienced that love and made the deep experience of God’s love and wanted other people to live that. And we, as the Chevalier family, are called to be a welcoming church, a tender church, a reflection of God’s love.

200th Anniversary Celebration Brazil

On the third day, P. Humberto Henrique, MSC, former general councillor, spoke about the spirituality of the heart for our times. For Humberto, to revive the charism, to return to the origins of our foundation is to be able to perceive how much that man, Chevalier, was taken by the charism, the gift of the spirit that was granted to him and how he communicated it through the spirituality of the heart. For the missionary, Chevalier had the conviction from the beginning that God deeply loved him, and because of that love, he needed to do one thing for the world: for humanity. That’s why he founded our congregation so we could reflect his love everywhere.

In the words of Fr. Absalón, during these days, we stepped on sacred ground, shook the earth and felt the power of the Holy Spirit through the founding intuition of Fr. Chevalier. We are convinced that we are heirs of a missionary, prophetic and current charism and that it is necessary to update it in order to be faithful. We need our hearts to burn for the mission because we feel loved by a human heart. Chevalier is alive and present in all the missionary territories where we are present.

The Father General emphasised that the Congress ended with each participant feeling strengthened in the method of community discernment, of community wisdom. It is necessary to nourish and enhance communion in diversity as the Chevalier Family. The common house waits and calls for our attitude changes and concrete actions.

200th Anniversary Celebration Brazil

On the last day, the 15th, where we remember the birth of our Founder, the celebration of this Bicentennial was crowned with a mass in the Basilica of Our Lady Aparecida, patron saint of Brazil and with the presidency of Msg. Manoel Ferreira, MSC, bishop of the Diocese of Registry. In the Mother’s house, as the Brazilians call the National Sanctuary, the meeting was given to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the birth of Fr. Chevalier and, together, all of us who were present thanked God for the life of our Founder.

Fr. Moacir Goulart de Figueiredo, Provincial Superior of Curitiba, in charge of making the homily at the central mass, recalled that Fr. Chevalier spent his life with his eyes fixed on the Heart of Jesus and that nourished and strengthened him always. And everything we feed grows. In addition, he recommended to all those present to feed three things in their lives: their dreams and the willingness to be missionaries; the Marian devotion, the seed of fraternity and social friendship, the central theme of this year’s Fraternity Campaign in Brazil, proposed by the Brazilian bishops.

For Fr. Absalón Alvarado, MSC, this experience, which was beautiful, was of renewal for everyone and of recharge for our missionary vocation and continue to be the heart of God in the lands where God himself has planted us. Likewise, this meeting renewed our being and our identity as a Chevalier family. Like the disciples of Emmaus, we return to Jerusalem, to our realities, to carry the news of the Lord, his Good News of love, full of his grace, to continue to be his heart in the world.

“We are aware of our weaknesses and challenges, but we do not lose hope or good humor. We appreciate the possibility of the meeting, the conversion, and the mission that awaits us.” With these words, Father Absalón ended his speech in Congress.

Miguel Alejandro Ibarra, msc