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Wednesday, 18 January 2023 08:43

The River of the Blood of Christ in the State of Amazonas

A Page of ASC History: 75th Anniversary of ASC presence in Amazonas

When talking about Amazonia, we are speaking about a broad region including many states in Brazil: the state of Amazonas whose capital is Manaus; the state of Para with Belem as capital; the state of Acre with Rio Branco as capital; the state of Amapa with its capital in Macapa; the state of Roraima with its capital in Boa Vista and the state of Rondonia, with its capital in Porto Velho.  When talking about Amazonia, we are speaking about a broad region including many states in Brazil: the state of Amazonas whose capital is Manaus; the state of Para with Belem as capital; the state of Acre with Rio Branco as capital; the state of Amapa with its capital in Macapa; the state of Roraima with its capital in Boa Vista and the state of Rondonia, with its capital in Porto Velho.  The first Adorers from the Province of Schaan arrived in Para in 1936 and served for 17 years in the cities of Porto de Moz and Altamira, from which they left in March 1953 when the first Brazilian Adorers arrived to take their places.  The mission of the Adorers in Brazil began in 1936 in the Prelature of the Xingu.  But with the passing of time the few Sisters became sick and during WWII lost contact with their motherhouse.The ASC Mission began in Amazonas in 1947 when 4 pioneer ASC Missionaries arrived from the province of Wichita, in the United States upon invitation from the Redemptorist Fathers.  The Redemptorists needed Sisters as catechists, teachers in schools and helping the sick.  There were many vocations among the young women of their parish.  The Fathers wanted to welcome congregations who would accept young Brazilian vocations.  This was the request that Father John McCormick sent to Sister Aloysia Barthelme, Provincial of Wichita in August, 1946.  In response to that request and to the letter received from Msgr. Joao da Mata Andrade do Amaral, Bishop of Manaus, the Provincial of Wichita and her Council decided to send two Sisters to visit the Redemptorist Missions along the Amazon River.  Sr. Julitta Elsen went to Altamira, where the Adorers of the Schaan Province were located to encourage them and communicate to them that they would certainly open a mission in Amazonia.  From Altamira, in Para, the two Sisters went to Manaus, also visiting the other Redemptorist missions of Coari, Codajas and Manacapuru.  They returned to the U. S. in November 1946, taking with them the first Brazilian candidate, Noemi Cinque, the future Venerable Serafina, for her formation to religious life as a postulant and novice in Wichita, Kansas.  Chosen from among the many volunteers for the mission in Amazonas, Brazil were Sr. Georgiana Heimermann and her sister Sr. Marciana Heimermann, as well as Sisters Julitta Elsen and Jane Frances Baalmann (Sr. Joana Francisca, as she was known in Brazil).  On September 26, 1947 Pope Pius XII warmly approved the idea of the Mission in Amazonia and gave his apostolic blessing on the missionary work of the Adorers during the General Chapter of the Sisters in Rome, where the Provincial of Wichita and Sister Julitta Elsen were present as delegates. The four missionaries appointed for the Brazilian Mission received their mission crosses in Wichita on November 23, 1947 from the hands of the Bishop Mark Carroll, Bishop of Wichita.  Father Fagan, Redemptorist Provincial of St. Louis, gave a touching homily.  A Pan American flight took the four pioneers to Manaus on November 30, 1947 at 11:00a.m.  Father Joao McCormick, Sister Cornelio and many parishioners were at the airport to welcome the Sisters and went to the Bishop’s house where the official welcome was given.  The following day they visited the governor of the state, Loepoldo Amorim da Silva Neves, and then the North American Consulate in addition to visiting churches, schools and hospitals.  During the two weeks spent in Manaus, they studied Portuguese with great commitment, helped by their teachers Lucinda and Lili Azevedo, who hosted them in their home.  At midnight on December 21 the Sisters, accompanied by Father Jose Elworthy, left on the industrial motor boat from Manaus to Coari, where they arrived at 4:00p.m. on Saturday, December 25.  Father Joao Maria Kreuzer had gathered the whole town, which was very small, to welcome the first Sisters that would work in Coari.  On the Sunday after Christmas, December 26, Father Jose Elworthy, the pastor, celebrated a high Mass of thanksgiving for the arrival of the Sisters in Coari, in Amazonas.  Thus, the Mission of the Sisters Adorers of the Blood of Christ was born in the state of Amazonas, Brazil.
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