A letter from João Pessoa, Brazil - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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A Shantala baby massage class led by Kathy Bond (prior to sheltering-in-place)

This Easter we have reflected with gratitude on the hope of new life for our broken and suffering world. Waiting at the Tomb has taken on a new meaning for most of the world, including us, during the COVID-19 crisis. It has been more than a month since we began to shelter-in-place in our home in João Pessoa, since everything started closing and canceling, including our daughter Maya’s school

Testing is inadequate here, so the extent of cases is unknown. Many people have lost income and jobs—particularly difficult in an already weak economy. Maryknoll offered to send us back to the United States, but we opted to stay in João Pessoa as we don´t know how long the pandemic will last.

A social media ad for the online self-care circle co-facilitated by Flávio

We have adapted to the ministry challenges of being confined to our homes. Flávio is co-facilitating an online self-care circle this month with a psychologist in São Paulo. The focus of the circle will be exercises and theater dynamics to help people deal with anxiety and stress during the crisis.

To celebrate International Water Day on March 20, Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ website published Flávio’s article “Defending the Right to Water,” a reflection on how access to water is a human right. Now is a good time to reflect on how access to water is essential to avoiding the coronavirus. Earlier in the month, Flávio released an e-book in Portuguese on “Selling Privatized Water.”

Kathy’s last in-person Shantala baby massage workshop was on March 14. Hosted by the Association of Doulas in Paraíba, nine doulas, nurses and pediatricians attended the training session along with the dad of a 15-day-old newborn. An Indian holistic practice, shantala is a therapeutic massage that strengthens infant motor development, eases colic and promotes maternal/paternal-infant bonding. On March 31, Kathy led her first shantala workshop online.

Her work with pregnant women and new moms at the public health post has been put on hold, due to the crisis, so she has transferred her energy to online yoga classes as so many people are suffering from anxiety and loneliness with the isolation. Four days a week she offers yoga classes in Portuguese. In addition, she is starting a chair yoga class, also in Portuguese, for cancer patients and those who suffer from chronic diseases. On Wednesdays, she is giving a class in English for family, friends and students who would like to practice their English.

If you would like to join Kathy’s Wednesday yoga classes in English at 10 am EDT, you can do so on Zoom. The classes are free, but good-will offerings in the form of donations to Maryknoll Lay Missioners are most welcome.

We hold you in our prayers and ask that you embrace us in yours. May we all be transformed into more genuine followers of the serving Jesus.

One with the risen Christ,
Flávio and Kathy

Mark your calendar

On Monday, April 27 at 10 am EDT, Kathy will be interviewed on Meet a Missioner Monday, a new series of Facebook and YouTube Live conversations with Maryknoll lay missioners around the globe. She will talk about her ministry working with those who have experienced trauma in Brazil and will share how she is taking her yoga and Shantala baby massage classes online. Tune in on Facebook or YouTube.


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