The missions, social projects and solidarity actions are a constant in the action of the Augustinian Recollect Family. The Province of Saint Nicholas of Tolentine has always lived in mission, since its very birth was motivated by the opening of the first evangelization missions in the Philippines in the 17th century. Since then, he has carried out his evangelizing activity following the mandate of Jesus in the places today called “frontiers”: there where it is necessary to defend the dignity of human life, social justice, equal opportunities, the defense of the most vulnerable.


Barra do Ceará is a large district in the North of Fortaleza with a very depressed economy: unemployment, disintegrated families, and with deficient services and infrastructures. The Augustinian Recollects arrived there in the year 2000 to work in two areas; Saint Augustine´s Seminary and the pastoral responsibility of six grass-root communities.

They could not stay on the margins of reality, so they decided to attend to the young girls and adolescents. It is one of the sectors of the population with the greatest social, psychological, and family risks in the district, in continuous danger of suffering grave harm from a very young age. Once they have entered into the spiral of use and abuse of their bodies they lose any vision of a future, auto esteem, will and respect and stop considering study as a source of growth and well-being.

Various organizations attended to the young in la Barra, but with a lack of human and material resources. Also, the victims of abuse and sexual exploitation need to leave their aggressive environments but there were in Fortaleza few refuge centres which give that kind of attention. To complement their plan of action the Augustinian Recollects had created a refuge centre with integral attention in the Condominio Espiritual Uirapurú (CEU), (Uirapuru Spiritual Joint Ownership), which was the centre of an association if groups that in one unique space have united their social projects. This includes projects for single mothers, AIDS suffers, prisoners, street children, drug dependency, and with Saint Monica’s Homes young girls in situations or in grave danger of commercial sexual exploitation.

The Recollects project is completed in the districts of Barra do Ceará and Carlito Pamplona, with similar characteristics, through home visits, distribution of necessities, and the creation of cultural and formative spaces through the reference of music or reading. Presently all those activities are developed in Jangurussu, another shantytown.

The dynamics of injustice

In Fortaleza the districts are set apart by the distribution of riches; there are some areas which are fine, touristy, with clean streets and all that the society can offer for well-being; along with this are the districts on the periphery with people living on top of one another and without dignity.

La Barra de Ceará has 80,000 inhabitants in 385 hectares, of which 41% are minors. More than 2,000 families live in shanty towns and almost 3,000 in illegal and improvised residences. The ground is unhealthy and unstable. There are no sewers or drainage and light comes by way of illegal and precarious cables and connection lines. The families survive on black economy: in 15.25% of the homes there are no fixed incomes and another 30% receive a minimum wage or less. The lack of investment and the social indifference for primary school studies means that 25% of the minors are illiterate and have to help out with the family income.

A project with objectives

Saint Monica´s Home covers all the necessities of the residents: order, hygiene, food, clothes, communal living. They are implicated in their own formative process through the use of responsibility, commitment, the acceptance of social values and norms, individual therapy, and groups on drug consumption, bad treatment, sexual exploitation, family disintegration…

In all of this they try to eliminate school truancy, being unsocial, violence, the lack of free and proper judgement, economic dependence, and job uncertainty. Free time and games are places for healthy growth, promoted via sports, nature walks, traditional games, theatre, dance, painting, capoeira, judo, craftwork, music…

The refuge links the residents with their families and public and private organisms. The process to complete the legal requisites is very rigorous through the intervention and auditing of the competent authorities. As a Catholic and Augustinian Recollect centre the Home does not neglect the pastoral attention, yet also respecting the particular religious beliefs and practices of the residents.

Intervention programmes

The intervention is done in a multidisciplinary way using the directorates of the Guide of Rights to Families and Communities Living Together. There are four types of intervention:


  • Half-open formation in the districts of Barra do Ceará and Carlito Pamplona: the social educators act as agents of change, of critical conscience and transformation that listen, dialogue, propose, and accept, in the sense that they accept, help and promote trust.
  • The Refuge House of Saint Monica: the victims, sent by the competent authorities (juvenile court, expert guidance,) and are prepared for their social reinsertion, away from the conditions and people that harmed them.
  • Diversified network working with more than eighteen public and private entities in order to unite their efforts and coordinate the actions of the institutions for attention of minors.
  • Formation of the young carried out in the proximities of the CEU taking full advantage of the greatest possible time of the infrastructure of Saint Monica´s Home as a space for living together without prejudices or social exclusions for the interns.



Saint Monica´s Home is a wide project, complex and with a large development in time and its own conception. In its final planning, not as yet complete, there will be refuge homes, social mothers, formation workshops, a sports area, games and free time, a library, a medical consultancy, a house for volunteers, a general kitchen, an administration office, management and attention, street educators.


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