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Sponsor the Formation of 28 Seminarians in Brazil
In the Diocese of Maržlia in the state of S„o Paulo there are 28 young men currently preparing for ordination to the priesthood. The diocese is huge, covering an area of almost 4,700 square miles. Every new vocation is needed!
Brazil still holds its place as the most populous Catholic nation on earth, yet the percentage of Catholics in the country continues to fall. Today, only 72% or so of the more than 190 million Brazilians declare themselves Catholics, though the exact figures quoted varies. What is clear is that this number is declining drastically. A myriad of sects and Pentecostal churches have sprung up and continue to proliferate. They seduce people with unrealistic promises of rapid wealth, health or the fulfilment of their dreams. There are over 35,000 of these “free churches” now.
Many people fall easy prey to their promises, especially the disillusioned and uprooted people in the shantytowns on the edges of the big cities. Many of them have come here from areas of the northeast of the country afflicted by years of drought, being unable to feed their families there. Their hopes and dreams of a better life in the big city have been bitterly disappointed. After spending the last of their money traveling to the hoped-for “promised land,” they count themselves lucky if they find work as garbage collectors. Most end up unemployed, and so they sink into a vicious spiral of family breakup, addiction, alcohol and violence.
As a result of these conditions, the Catholic Church is faced with massive challenges, including the fact that – 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. This means that one of the biggest necessities for the local Church is the promotion of vocations.
“Leave a parish for 20 years without a priest, and they‘ll start worshipping the animals there. The priest is not a priest for himself, he is for you,” the holy Curé of Ars, Saint Jean-Marie Vianney once tellingly warned of the danger. And blunt though his statement may be, it speaks to the problem facing the Church in Brazil today, for where there are no priests, the people are easily drawn away by the sects.
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 4,700 square miles; it is divided into 61 parishes. Some 729,000 Catholic faithful live here, so that on average each parish has close to 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 not just be priests, but good priests, and so they need to receive not only a solid academic formation but also be intensively prepared and accompanied on the spiritual and human plane, while at the same time gaining a real practical insight into pastoral work by visiting the parishes and the Catholic social care centers and institutions, making themselves useful and acquiring real hands-on experience.
We are supporting the diocese with $7,500 towards the cost of their formation. Will you join us in supporting these 28 seminarians in Brazil? We are sure they will gratefully remember you in their prayers.
Aid to the Church in Need commits to invest your funds where they will have the greatest impact for the Church that we serve. Funds donated to Aid to the Church in Need’s projects will be used towards the greatest need in our programs to help keep the Faith alive.