Close to 20 years ago, a Carmelite convent was founded just outside the city of Florida, in the south of Uruguay. Today there are 12 Carmelite Sisters here, living a life of perpetual prayer in accordance with the Rule of their foundress, the great saint, mystic and Doctor of the Church, Teresa of Avila.
“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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The “Bethlehem Mission” (Missao Belem) is a lay spiritual community of people who devote themselves to caring for the homeless, drug addicts, the lonely and all those facing a crisis or some difficult situation.
At age 88, Sister Halina has surely earned the right to more rest after a long life of daily service on behalf of the poor, but she continues to work, tirelessly visiting the sick and sewing quilts and pillowcases for newborn babies. And her equally elderly fellow Sisters also continue their service – listening to and counseling those who come to them for advice, helping children with their homework and comforting the sick and needy. Some of them even continue to instruct and give talks.
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.
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.