Many religious Sisters in north-east Brazil are over 65 – and several over 80 –, but they are able to actively serve the faithful because a Catholic charity is ensuring their health is looked after.
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has helped fund medical treatment for 12 elderly members of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.
The congregation provides pastoral care for the poor as well as assisting at local parishes and maternity hospitals in Olinda and Recife Archdiocese. The Sisters also help out on retreats and formation programmes.
Sister Silvânia, General Superior of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, told ACN: “Human suffering, both locally and around the world, touches us deeply and moves us to solidarity.”
She added that her congregation’s priorities are the “sharing both of bread and of the Word of God, listening, counselling, hospitality and constant prayer”.
Sisters Rosa, Letícia and Isabel – who are all over 80 – organise faith activities, such as prayer groups, retreats and formation sessions in their parish in Olinda.
Sisters Helena and Regina – aged 93 and 83, respectively – work with the poor, help with prayer services and prepare packages of essential items for newborns at the local maternity hospital.
Sister Helena told ACN: “I have received many graces from God. All I can do now is give thanks.”
Sister Carminha, 77 – who counsels young mothers and teenagers in Igarassu – has been able to see a neurologist, thanks to ACN’s support.
Sister Escolástica, 78, has also benefited from ACN’s assistance, enabling her to continue composing and performing music for community celebrations and festivities.
General Superior Sister Silvânia said: “We thank ACN with all our hearts for helping us with this support for our elderly and sick sisters, and in return we offer constant prayer and the good each of them contributes in their own community.
“The Sisters who benefit from this project speak about the wonders the Lord has performed and ask that God be praised in the hands of our benefactors, outstretched to the needy in the world, and may his blessings come down upon them.”
With thanks to Filipe d’Avillez