January 15 – IN BRAZIL
In 1948 the District of Italy was growing fast and was optimistically considering taking charge of a foreign mission. The opportunity to do so came when a Brazilian Bishop invited the Brothers to work in his diocese. Their departure was marked by great enthusiasm: on 8 December 1948 the District Superior, Br. Alessio, introduced the four Brothers about to leave to Pope Pius XII. They arrived in Rio de Janeiro on 7 January 1949 and were welcomed by the Apostolic Nuncio; on 15 January they settled at Carmo do Rio Claro in the State of Minas Gerais. They first taught in a secondary school there then took charge of it. In 1957 they started a new secondary school. They became firmly established: the first secondary school became a juniorate (which turned out eight novices from 1958 to 1968); they took charge of more secondary schools at Cassia and Bambui.
However, great difficulties soon arose: permanent insertion for good in a country with acute social problems; in 1969 educational establishments in the State of Minas Gerais were nationalised, and this sounded the knell of traditional schools; the crisis in the Church and the Institute in the 1970’s; inability of the Italian Province to support the · Brazilian District which, in 1966, was handed over to the Poitiers Province. Teaching in secondary schools was replaced by a different form of mission. In order to save children from broken homes from dire poverty and from the streets, children’s homes were set up in Diamantina in 1968, in Passos in 1970 and in Almenara in 1986.
Meanwhile a project designed to help working-class people and including· an experimental farm was started at Nova Olinda in Amazonia, 20 hours away from Manaus by boat; a company there had put unused buildings at the disposal of the missionaries working in the area. After the Provincial of Poitiers had been contacted, he appointed two Brothers there. However, the project started in 1970 had to be abandoned.
The Almenara community was dissolved on 1 January 1994 and at the end of 1995 another one was set up at Nova Contagem in the suburbs ofBelo-Horizonte.
The novitiate, which had been in Passos until then, was transferred to Nova Contagem. In a country where the status of the Brothers is regarded as inferior to that of priests, the promotion of vocations, in which the District has always been engaged, yielded poorer results than expected. In 1999 there are only two Brazilian-born Brothers.
Until 1983, the Brazilian District, which was set up in 1964, was first attached to Italy then to France. It restarted in 1994 and is attached to the French Province