The Agustinas Recoletas del Corazón de Jesús begin their ministry in the Santa Monica de Fortaleza Home (Brazil)
The presence and mission of the Augustinian Recollect Family in the Brazilian city of Fortaleza, capital of the state of Ceará, has undertaken a major transformation at the beginning of 2021. Thus, the Agustinas Recoletas del Corazón de Jesús have arrived in Fortaleza, who have founded their first community outside the country of Venezuela where they were born.
On the other hand, the Augustinian Recollects have left the Parish of San Pedro and their residence inBarra do Ceará, where they resided since the beginning of the 21st century, when the Seminário Santo Agostinho was founded. Permanently closing the training house, they will focus from now on all their efforts on the Santa Monica Home and vocational promotion.
Agustinas Recoletas del Corazón de Jesús in Brazil
The Santa Monica Household aims to welcome girls and adolescents to which the authorities (the judiciary, mainly) have decided to remove from their usual environment because they have suffered or are at serious risk of suffering some form of violence or serious violation of their rights: abuse, exploitation, abandonment, physical or emotional harm, lack of attention...
The Santa Monica Home, with a long experience of more than ten years, offers these victims comprehensive care of all their primary needs (housing, food, grooming, education, health), as well as therapeutic assistance, family support and follow-up reports for civil authorities to make the right decision about their return to the social and family environment from which they came.
Between February 2013 and October 2019, in addition to the Augustinian Recollects and the interdisciplinary professional care team (psychologists, educators, social workers), the Santa Monica Home was attended by a community of Misioneras Agustinas Recoletas.
With the advantage of belonging to the same charism and family of the Augustinian Recollects, this religious community was present in the Home in a 24/7 format, ensuring the permanent attention of the beneficiaries with a feminine touch of attention and exemplariness.
However, in a restructuring process, the Misioneras Agustinas Recoletas had to leave this ministry and closed their community in Fortaleza. The Augustinian Recollects then reached contact with the Agustinas Recoletas de Corazón de Jesús, which are also part of the Augustinian Recollect Family, to offer them the possibility of participating in the social project with their presence.
In September 2019, two nuns arrived from Venezuela and have the opportunity to know on-site the ministry and the project, with the aim of preparing the relevant reports for the Congregation to make any decision from a deeper knowledge.
Following appropriate procedures and deliberations, the Agustinas Recoletas del Corazón de Jesús set the date of their arrival at the Santa Monica Home in March 2020. They want to welcome this ministry with great joy and hope, to represent for them a unique challenge, the possibility of expanding to a new country and serving such a special group of beneficiaries from the particularity of this ministry. It will also be the first community that works hand in hand with the Province of San Nicolás de Tolentino of the Augustinian Recollects. Until now their only reference was the Province of Santo Tomás de Villanueva, with which they share a lot in Venezuela.
But that month, March 2020, is marked in red on the agendas and history of all Western societies: that's when the unexpected pandemic began. The world we knew changed in a matter of weeks: borders are closed, transports are cancelled, consulates and embassies stop working.
The trip and the start of activities in Fortaleza were cancelled. The sisters have been able to leave Venezuela until 11 months later. On January 24, the three founders begin a journey that, already in itself, represents an adventure with their tired and crazy journey through four different countries passing through Caracas, Cancun, Panama City, Sao Paulo, Fortaleza.
Finally, Rosania Gualdrón (63 years), Argelis de los Ángeles Blanco Mijares (34) and Yamilcar Gladimar Suárez (24), Agustinas Recoletas del Corazón de Jesús arrive at Fortaleza airport on January 26, in the early morning. There was no crowded reception that day because they were quarantined for the next week.
The official welcome took place on February 1st, with a breakfast, music, and personal presentations with the beneficiaries; and subsequently, lunch with all the workers and volunteers of the project.
The Agustinas Recoletas del Corazón de Jesús have signed a collaboration agreement with the Santa Monica Home, by which they will be responsible for all direct actions in the care of the beneficiaries; for their part, the Augustinian Recollects will focus on the management, relations with other institutions, administration, and formation of the work teams and volunteers.
New presence of the Augustinian Recollects in Fortaleza
The Augustinian Recollects arrived in Fortaleza as soon as the 21st century began. They settled in the Barra do Ceará, the northern border district of the city, where they inaugurated a house of formation, based on, and named after the Seminary San Agustín, and pastorally attended the region, then missionary area of the Archdiocese of Fortaleza without the configuration of Parish.
Since January 2016 there were no seminarians, since the Province of San Nicolás de Tolentino decided to send its applicants to the training house of Franca, Sao Paulo, Brazil, of the Province of Santo Tomás de Villanueva. On the other hand, the missionary area becomes over time Parish of St. Peter, within an Archdiocese that has almost 450 clerics and abundant vocations.
The religious community was living almost 20 kilometers away from the Santa Monica Home, with a journey that depending on the traffic could last up to an hour and a half, as it was necessary to completely cross the capital of Cearense, no less than half an hour.
The Order of St. Augustine, specifically its Province of Our Lady of Consolation, based in Belo Horizonte, capital of Minas Gerais, has long wanted to expand in the northeast of Brazil. Hence the circumstances have coincided providentially for all: in the old Seminary San Agustín of the Augustinian Recollects, they havejust founded the Community of San Alipio and San Posidio and will also take care of the Parish of San Pedropastorally. Their idea is also, over time, to welcome vocations from the region.
The Augustinian Recollects have retired to a house much more suitable for a three-member religious community, located about Jangurussu, just fifteen minutes’ drive from the Santa Monica Home.
The three religious who make up the community will have as special dedication to the Santa Monica Homeand the vocational promotion, since one of them has been appointed vocational promoter.