Working in schools to end violence - Maryknoll Lay Missioners
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Lent 2024 newsletter


Kathy Bond and Flávio Rocha, Brazil

Middle-schoolers at a stress management workshop led by Kathy


Lenten greetings from João Pessoa!

From Kathy:

We are excited to be involved in a new initiative that provides holistic health training to reduce violence and anxiety in public schools. Our ministry site AFYA Holistic Health Center participates in a community network of NGOs, schools, churches and other leaders to promote a climate of peace in the region.

Last year, a number of public school teachers and principals asked for AFYA’s help in the school environment. During post-pandemic meetings, the teachers and administrators shared how incidences of anxiety have skyrocketed since 2020, resulting in more cases of self-harm (especially self-mutilation and suicide ideation), tensions and fights among students and vandalism against school property.

Kathy and Flávio leading a workshop for teachers and administrators on techniques to help reduce anxiety in public schools

Facing this reality, the public school personnel invited the social educators at AFYA Holistic Health Center to facilitate workshops with students focused on tools to help reduce anxiety and nervousness. We have decided to expand the effort to six schools and include teachers, support staff and administrators in addition to the students.

Together with two other teammates from AFYA, Flávio and I will visit the six schools every week to meet with a group of students to provide tools to deal with anxiety. A new element of the project will be offering self-care workshops and holistic health therapies to the school staff one Saturday per month at AFYA. During these meetings we will also share resources that can be used on a daily basis and multiplied easily to better manage stress and anxiety for themselves and to help students in a crisis.

We have noticed how excited the school workers are when we present the project.


From Flávio:

Kathy and I were happy to have Maya with us for over a month. She had a list of things to do and ate all the foods that she had missed. In the end, she was eager to go back to college. She seems very happy, and we are both happy to see her growth.

Gratitude retreat

Flávio and Kathy leading a retreat on gratitude in Olinda

In January, Kathy and I facilitated a retreat for 24 people in a beautiful old convent that has been converted into a bed and breakfast in a nearby city called Olinda. We spent the day reflecting about gratitude and the small pleasures that we have in our lives.

Our monthly retreats have attracted both new people and many who return because of the friendships that they have made. Some have even branched out with new service and wellness projects. We are happy that we can provide opportunities for people to slow down and value the gifts from God that too often are not valued enough.

I also facilitate a theater workshop for young people who are part of the Migrant Pastoral Group. These moments help them to connect better and also to have access to a different way to approach art.

Thank you for all the contributions and prayers that many of you have offered us over the years. If you would like to help support our efforts with the adolescents in more middle schools, your donations will help pay for our transportation, supplies and stipends of Brazilian partners.

Easter blessings for you and your families! We hold you in our prayers and ask for prayers of peace and justice in our world.

Together in mission,
Flávio Jose Rocha and Kathy Bond

Please consider supporting our mission work in João Pessoa with a donation through the link below.

We invite you to walk with us as our “COMPANIONS IN MISSION.” Companions in Mission are friends and generous donors who give financial gifts on a regular (usually monthly) basis. For more information, visit Become a Companion in MissionThank you so much for your generosity! 


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