The Order of the Visitation Sisters was founded in 1610 by Saint Francis of Sales and Saint Jane Frances de Chantal. Also known as the Salesian Sisters, they live a contemplative life of prayer in enclosure. At the same time, many are also involved in spiritual accompaniment and education.
“Mary tells us that she has ‘the honor’ of being our mother, assuring us that those who suffer do not weep in vain. These tears are a silent prayer rising to heaven, always finding a place in Mary’s mantle.” Pope Francis
Some 40 percent of the world’s estimated 1.2 billion Catholics live in Latin America, but the continent has seen a decline in the Catholic population. Latin America’s biggest challenge? How to engage the Catholic flock in ways that deepen their knowledge and love of the faith, thus boosting their engagement in and faithfulness to the Church.
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It was only 30 years ago that the religious institute the Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matarà was founded in Argentina. Since then, it has spread throughout the world, with 160 convents in 35 different countries on all five continents of the globe – such is the measure of its success to date.
This year, the Little Sisters of the Helpless Elderly (Hermanitas de los Ancianos Desamparados) are celebrating the 145th anniversary of their foundation. Ever since 1873, they have been caring for the poor, the lonely and the helpless elderly.
The Apostolic Prelature of Cristalandia in central western Brazil covers a vast area of over 24,000 square miles – larger than many U.S. states. It has 17 parishes and its close-to 177,000 Catholic faithful live widely scattered. There are just 16 priests to minister to them pastorally, and the distances are vast, making pastoral care a massive challenge.
The Apostolic Vicariate of Yurimaguas in the east of Peru is mostly in the Amazon rain forest, in an area that is home to various different indigenous Indian groups. The 224,000 or so Catholics in this region live scattered over an area greater than many small European countries. There are just 25 priests to care for them, and these priest all face long, difficult and dangerous journeys as part of their mission.