Advent greetings from the northeast of Brazil - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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December 2020 newsletter


Kathy Bond and Flávio Rocha, Brazil

Maya in Ibirapuera Park in São Paulo (Jan. 2020)

2020 has been quite a year; full of uncertainty, fear, loss and the search for glimpses of light. In full COVID-19 shelter-in-place, Maya turned 15 with a Zoom celebration in May.

Ministry in times of COVID-19 has brought new opportunities for us in the midst of challenging times. We have been collaborating with the Diocese of Floresta, Pernambuco
(10 hours by car from our home in João Pessoa in the northeast of Brazil) and the Indigenous community of Kambiwá over the last several months.

In September, the Diocese of Floresta, which is in a semi-arid region, invited Kathy to facilitate a series of online workshops for first responders, community, and Catholic Church health agents. They requested a moment to help them deal personally and professionally with the elevated anxiety and stress of the pandemic. She chose the theme Spirituality and Integral Health, focusing on how we can gain emotional stability in uncertain times by reconnecting with nature. The reflection on water centered on the Gospel story of the Woman at the Well and how she and Jesus shared a beautiful moment of transformation and acceptance at a source of water and life. (You can read Kathy’s homily on the Gospel reading at

In August, Flávio gave a workshop with a storyteller on Integral Health and Literature. The gathering focused on the lessons of short stories as a way to deal with stress during the pandemic. We asked the participants for goodwill donations to help an NGO in the Floresta diocese to build a water cistern for the Kambiwá Indigenous people.

Flavio, interviewed on Aparecida TV

Additionally in support of the fundraising efforts, Flávio offered online classes on the theme of water in the encyclical Laudato Si’. Thanks to a generous donation to Maryknoll Lay Missioners to help communities during this pandemic, we were able to donate more toward the cistern construction, and the community is going to start building it near the community school, as access to water is essential in COVID-19 prevention efforts.

One ministry highlight of 2020 for Flávio was being interviewed on the Aparecida Catholic TV channel about the importance of Laudato Si‘s call for the care of the Earth.

In closing, we ask for your prayers especially for the Amazon region, which continues to burn for grazing and soy plantations. We pray for healing and abundance in your lives as we ask for your prayers for us and the people that we accompany in the northeast of Brazil.

May the light of the new-born child ignite our hearts in compassion and solidarity.

Be well,
Flávio, Kathy and Maya

This photo from my work with moms and babies captures Advent for me. Camila Madeira and Baby Lis Camila participated in the mom’s circle at the public health post where Kathy facilitates Shantala baby massage, yoga and health classes (Dec 2019):

Kathy Bond and Flávio José Rocha
Kathy Bond and Flávio José Rocha are Maryknoll lay missioners based in João Pessoa in northeastern Brazil.