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Joanne Blaney


Year Joined MKLM: 1991

Country: Brazil

City: Sao Paulo

Focus: Education, Justice and Peace

Project(s): Popular Education and Human Rights through the lens of Restorative Justice, Forgiveness and Reconciliation

Populations Served: community leaders and incarcerated women and men

Description: leadership training on violence prevention.

Project Goal(s):

Train community leaders in violence prevention and restorative justice practices. Help break the cycle of violence in urban and domestic conflicts through the use of restorative conferences, which focus on Gospel values of compassion, forgiveness and justice for all.

Facilitate conflict-mediation circles for families, groups and social projects in marginalized communities.

Accompany a community of people who live or have lived on the street and those who work with them. Participate in Biblical reflection, liturgy and community sharing and events.


Current Ministry:

Joanne is committed to violence prevention and helping victims and offenders of violence. Her ministry at a Popular Education and Human Rights Center in São Paulo serves marginalized and vulnerable populations. She works with a team of Brazilians and, in her words, “I have been inspired by the hope and actions of Brazilians, who continue to struggle with ever-increasing violence and injustice. We work in direct service and participate in local and national/international organizations to change unjust structures that contribute to poverty and violence.”

Joanne reflects: “The people of Brazil, with their hospitable spirit and deep faith, are a great gift to me. Joining with others, we strive to form a community of brothers and sisters, working for a more just and compassionate world.”

Joanne trains educators, community leaders and church groups in restorative justice practices and violence prevention to resolve group and interpersonal conflicts. Joanne and her teammates travel throughout Brazil to teach courses on conflict mediation, forgiveness, non-violent communication, reconciliation and restorative practices. The courses and workshops use the Paulo Freire popular education holistic model and have ongoing supervision so that participants become course multipliers. Joanne also facilitates restorative justice circles of conflict and support.

Joanne tries to incorporate Gospel values of compassion, forgiveness and justice into her ministry. She has been inspired by those with whom she works, especially those in prison, who live in inhuman conditions. Seu João, 78 years old, in evaluating the Restorative Justice course, stated, “I would not be here [in prison] had I taken this course 30 years ago.” Rodrigo stated, “I learned from this course that revenge is not the answer. I am here in prison because of my taking revenge on others. I want to meet with my victims and admit what I did and repair the harm.”

Joanne states that “the most exciting part of my ministry has been seeing the transformations that take place in working with the theme of Restorative Justice. I’ve been strengthened by the human capacity for forgiveness and compassion that I have experienced in my ministry with so many varied groups—inmates, homeless people, adolescent mothers, victims and offenders of urban and domestic violence, church and community groups.”

Pope Francis exhorts us: “Each one of us is an artisan of peace by uniting and not dividing, by extinguishing hatred and not holding onto it, by opening paths to dialogue and not by constructing walls!” Come join us! Become a Maryknoll Lay Missioner and use your talents and skills in service to others!


Personal Data:

Joanne is originally from Philadelphia and worked as a junior-high school teacher and school principal in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. She has a master of arts degree in education and is a certified facilitator and trainer of trainers of restorative justice practices. Joanne has experience in working with RCIA programs, parish councils, literacy programs and domestic violence issues. She was the co-director of Franciscan Mission Service in Washington, DC. In Brazil, Joanne worked with a grassroots shantytown housing organization. She is a founding member of Associação Fala Mulher, an organization that works to heal women and children, who are victims of domestic violence.

Joanne was the Director of Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ Mission Services Department for three years and oversaw the planning, implementation and evaluation of the department’s programs. She is the regional director of Brazil.

In São Paulo, Brazil, Joanne continues to be involved domestically and internationally with restorative justice conferences and programs. She has given presentations at restorative justice conferences in Australia, Brazil, Northern Ireland and the United States. In 2018 she gave presentations and courses in Finland, Kenya and Rwanda. She presented her work entitled “ESPERE – Schools of Forgiveness and Peacemaking” at the International Congress of World Religions in Australia. Joanne also co-authored a Forgiveness, Reconciliation and Restorative Justice book that is being used with adolescents and children in São Paulo social-educational centers.