The Sisters of St. Joseph of Rochester are planning to mark 40 years of mission work in Brazil with simultaneous celebrations July 11 at the SSJ motherhouse in Pittsford and at the sisters’ mission in Brazil.
Collections for the SSJ Brazil mission will be taken up throughout parishes in the Diocese of Rochester at Masses during the weekend of May 15-16. The annual Diocesan Mission Sunday collection also benefits the mission work of the Sisters of Mercy in Chile.
The SSJ mission in Brazil comprises eight sisters from the Rochester diocese, as well as four native Brazilian sisters. The mission serves 15 communities, and provides pastoral care; pastoral training of lay Catholics; health care; and education.
The sisters have also helped Brazilians learn how to advocate for themselves so as to gain better health care, education and social services in their communities. For example, the sisters have worked with poor farmers attempting to secure their right to farm land left idle by absentee ranch-owners, a right granted to poor farmers by Brazil’s government.
Landowners, in turn, are supposed to be financially compensated by the Brazilian government for the loss of idle land to squatters. Sister of St. Joseph Jean Bellini, who has worked in Brazil since 1976, noted in a recent letter to her order that she recently helped peacefully resolve a dispute between poor farmers and a rancher that had turned violent. The church routinely works with the rural poor to help them in disputes with landowners, she added.
Eight Sisters of St. Joseph from Rochester are slated to go to Brazil for the July 11 celebration. For information on the celebration at the Pittsford motherhouse, call 585/641-8172.