I was able to get to Campos for a brief visit and can report that everyone is in good health and good spirits, and bearing well the limitations imposed by occasional regional covid lockdowns. It was a treat for me to see everyone again and to enjoy the silence and solemnity of the daily routine, if only for a day. We are all very greatful for the generous support of our donors, and for your prayers.
The pantry is well stocked. No one is fat! But they are getting good nutrition. Over 100 new fruit trees were donated by a local nursery: orange, acerola, papaya, avocado, mango and lime trees now grow prolifically on the large property. A new dirt road around the perimeter of the large property is being maintained to serve as an exercise path and firebreak, since the regular burning of the sugar cane fields on either side is a bit nerve-wracking. There are five calves fattening in the back pasture, and another several dozen at a farm in the north of the diocese, which assures some supply of meat for the months to come. Area dairy farmers donate some of their male calves to be raised for food. The care of the grounds is finally in the hands of a part-time groundskeeper, who is helping to maintain a more consistent civilized appearance in a tropical environment where everything one cuts down grows back very, very fast.
Since family-day visits have not been possible under the recurring quarantines, seminarians are allowed to make weekly video calls to their families instead of just audio. Brazil has a very family-oriented culture, and it’s rare for people to spend much time far from home, even in adulthood. Though a good portion of the seminarians are from the diocese of Campos some come from other states. The strict limits usually imposed on the use of internet and cell phone are excellent for building self-discipline, fraternal friendship, and focus on the tasks at hand. But especially for the first year students a little flexibility can help both parents and sons adapt to the novel arrangements.
The cataloguing of the library books is progressing, and Father Everaldo has compiled a list of books they need to purchase, mostly in the areas of philosophy and patristics. The total for that comes to about $3000 US, but they can be purchased a little at a time, so Friends of Campos will contribute as we can. Perhaps we can get discounts from some of the publishers, too. If you are particularly interested in helping with this project please get in touch via our contact page.
We reached a little over half our goal for the Lenten fundraiser, which has allowed us to help with food and pharmacy costs at the seminary and convent. We hope to receive a bit more in the next months to move ahead on the furnishings, library and music program support. The furnishings, too, will be paid in installments, so we are hopeful we can support that project in particular.
The sisters provided this sweet video - with an excellent effort in English narration! - to thank the donors to Friends of Campos for their generosity.
Also, the seminary has a nice instagram feed which includes videos of Holy Week and of day to day activities. If you use instagram you might enjoy following it! https://www.instagram.com/seminarioic/
Please keep us in your prayers and spread the word about the needs of this unique traditional diocese!
Yours in Christ,
Dear friends, we have nearly reached the half-way mark towards our goal of raising $16,000 during Lent. Funds raised right now are being used most urgently to buy food for the seminary and defray pharmacy costs for the sisters in Bom Jesus. In addition, funds permitting, we want to offer grants for desperately needed furnishings and library books at the seminary and equipment for the music program at the convent.
We are most grateful for the support received so far, but more help is needed!
Please help us reach our goal with your own donations, your prayers, and by encouraging your friends, family and colleagues to support this fundraiser!
Click here to donate via Paypal or bank transfer: https://www.friendsofcampos.org/donations.html
Here’s a full accounting of the projects we are supporting this season: https://www.friendsofcampos.org/projects.html
God repay you for your support!
President, Friends of Campos
In this brief video new deacon Fabio offers his thanks for all the support you, our benefactors, give to the seminary and shares some footage from his diaconal ordination.
We’re excited to announce our fundraiser for Lent. Our goal is to raise just $16,000 by Easter.
This will cover the projects detailed in the Projects section:
-A monthly supplement for the seminary for food, cleaning supplies and other basics
-A monthly supplement for the convent in Bom Jesus for food and pharmacy
-A proper wardrobe for each dormitory room in the seminary
-A round of new books for the library
-New musical instruments for the sisters
Please join us in reaching (or even surpassing!) our goal! Contributions of any size are welcome. Please donate today!
May God repay you for your prayers and contributions. Please share this fundraiser with your friends and colleagues!
Friends of Campos
by Ona Kiser, President
I was finally able to visit Campos in early February, 2021 to get an in-person look at the status of the projects we had hoped to support in 2020 and discuss the needs for 2021. Take a look at our new projects page to see what we’ll be doing!
Our initial plans for 2020 were largely put aside in favor of sending emergency funds for keeping the seminary pantry stocked. That we were able to do, sending several donations throughout the year to help feed the young men. We are really grateful for the generous support we received from donors in the US and Europe.
Two projects we’d hoped to help with ended up being taken care of by private donors not affiliated with Friends of Campos:
They had also desperately needed new hospital beds for the Saint Joseph Care Center for the Elderly, and these were also purchased by a private donor in late 2020. They haven’t been delivered yet, but we’ll post some pictures when they are. We are grateful to see the sisters receiving extra help, especially in such a difficult year.
Back at the seminary, I was delighted to see that the Formation Center for Priests has been finished, despite the quarantines.
Another joy was to see the progress made on the library. The new shelves are slowly filling with books, the reading room is already in use (and air-conditioned!), and a small team has been trained to repair and catalogue the books under the supervision of one of the priests. There are some treasures to be found, including correspondence, magazines and other publications covering the time of upheaval and transition after the Second Vatican Council. It will make a good resource for researchers in the future. This was not a Friends of Campos project in 2020, but will be in 2021 (see project page for details!).
The sisters and the seminarians are praying for our benefactors during Lent as well there are Masses celebrated for this intention at the seminary. We thank you again for your support in 2020, our first year of service. We hope to grow in 2021!
Check out our 2021 projects here!
Also new this year: the sisters and the seminary are taking prayer requests. You can submit your intentions here.
By Ona Kiser
First, we want to thank you all for your generous support of this new project, Friends of Campos. Our plans for helping out with some infrastructure projects got set aside as the pandemic wrecked the flow of support from the parishes that normally sustains the seminary. Thanks to your charity we were able to make several donations to help keep the seminarians in food and soap.
The seminarians are on summer break now, visiting their families. The new school year starts up at the end of January (the school year runs January to December here). God willing, I’ll be heading out for a visit shortly after the feast of Candelária (February 2). That’s also the feast day of the patron saint of Brazil, Our Lady of Aparecida. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen everyone in person!
We were happy to celebrate the ordination of Father Kelvin in December (see previous post): a joyful conclusion to a rather difficult year. There were also a few minor news stories from around the region:
The end of the school year is a time for public presentation and defense of monographs by the students finishing philosophy (the end of the third year). The successful presentation and defense of the monograph is required to continue on to theology. In the photo, Eduardo Salomão takes the stand. His monograph was about Natural Law in the Summa of St. Thomas Aquinas. He called the subject "awesome but difficult" but said he found the preparation rewarding, especially as the subject is very current.
A calf auction was held recently in Bom Jesus. The sale raised funds to help pay for the new solar panel installation on the Saint Joseph’s Home for the Elderly, affiliated with the Apostolic Administration. I have sometimes purchased raffle tickets for calf raffles, just on a whim, but have yet to win a calf. I live in the city, so a calf is not much use to me, but if I ever do win one it will make a good story. Brazilian cattle are super adorable, with big eyes and floppy ears.
I’ll just add a special mention of two of the oldest residents of Saint Joseph’s: Eliza, who is 108 and Maria de Lourdes, who is 110! Here they are in their Christmas wish list photos which the sisters posted so area residents could bring gifts.
Happy New Year! God repay you all for your continued prayers and support.
December has brought us a new priest, Father Kelvin, who was ordained on December 12th, feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Due to the renewed outbreaks of Covid-19 here in Brazil the ordination was held semi-privately, mostly attended by Kelvin’s family. Dom Fernando, bishop of the Apostolic Administration, was one of several clergy in the Administration who were recently afflicted with Covid and he was still in quarantine on the scheduled date (though he had a relatively mild case and has now recovered).
Dom Antônio, an auxiliary bishop from the archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro was kind enough to substitute. He proved a good student, too, learning the old rite in two days of training. He was reportedly overjoyed to do the ordination.
Following are some photos for your enjoyment. Please do continue to pray for us here in Brazil!
Brazil maintains some fragments of formal manners such as I’ve never encountered in the United States. One is asking a blessing from superiors. It may be done by children asking the blessing of their parents in the morning or by children lining up to ask their school teacher’s blessing in the morning. I’ve been asked for my blessing by my godchildren, and even by children on the street in traditional communities. I’ve asked elderly ladies for their blessing and received, in all solemnity, “May God bless you” in return. It’s one of many gracious gestures that seem like drops of beauty in a world that tends to informality, hurried interactions, and disrespect.
Another, often done in conjunction with asking a blessing, is kissing of the back of the other person’s right hand. While this is a ritual gesture in the traditional Mass, it is also normal when meeting clergy on the street or at the parish, at least in the more traditional communities. In fact, it spills over again into the greeting of superiors in general, with the formal asking of a blessing from ones mother, an elderly lady, grandpa, a teacher, a religious superior or other paternal figure often accompanied by a kiss to the back of the right hand.
Another delight is the use of formal address not only with superiors, but also among equals. I’ve discovered this custom in convents, seminaries and monasteries (sometimes even in those that do not celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass). It, too, is something that seems to bring a dignity and graciousness to what would otherwise be banal activities, from passing the salt, sir, to reaching for a pen, ma’am. In Portuguese this formality is conveyed by a use of the third person instead of second person: “Would the lady like more water? Might the gentleman pass me the salt?”
All of this may seem fussy. I initially found it so strange that I scolded some young people at church for speaking formally to me. To my astonishment they begged me to allow them to keep the custom, as it was for them a small gesture of dignity and beauty in a world full of ugliness and disrespect. With time I’ve come to see it as part and parcel of the cultivation of a life filled with thoughtfulness and consideration, an awareness of social structure, and an honoring of the dignity of guests and superiors. In fact, I find it just as apt when addressing people least likely to be treated with any dignity at all: figuring they could use a drop of courtesy more than most of us.
I do wonder what will happen to the hand kissing, a gesture that has been quite suddenly suppressed by the fears around covid, here at the end of the year 2020. It’s strange to see Brazilians in general greet each other at a distance, making awkward nods or bows which fail to convey the enthusiasm of the more usual greetings of hugs and kisses. That said, the verbal politenesses are not susceptible to germs, so have some chance of carrying on, God willing. And in daily life the attempts at new kinds of greeting seem to be losing traction, with girlfriends and moms slowly reverting to their usual kisses, and men to their handshakes and back-slaps.
We didn’t anticipate this year’s economic upheaval when we launched Friends of Campos. But not a few months later here we are, with parishes and Church institutes barely keeping their heads above water. Economic hardships have affected nearly every sector, many small businesses have closed, and many people have been out of work, at least temporarily. The funding and direct donations of food the seminary in Campos received from the parishes dropped by two-thirds, leaving them low on food and basic cleaning supplies.
We asked your help and your response was immediate and very generous. We are all very grateful for your heartfelt outpouring of support.
The rector of the seminary, Father Marco Antonio, recorded a short thank you. Gabriel and Eduardo, both in their third year of philosophy, spoke in English on behalf of their colleagues and put together the video as a personal thank you to all of you.
May God reward you all for your charity.
When a joyful Brazilian man from Campos entered our monastery in Norcia years ago, we had no idea it would be the beginning of a lasting, rich friendship with his home city. Often he shared stories of a land that modernity had left in peace, a land with material challenges but spiritual abundance. Processions and pilgrimages went on for days and men and women attended daily Traditional Mass as normal routine. It is hard to imagine a place where the Faith lives on in a real way as if never interrupted.
On my first visit to Campos flying up the Brazilian coast in a small plane from Rio on Azul airlines, I could see from the air that the land itself was mostly “modern”. Tall office buildings, bad traffic, and poor sanitation dotted the landscape. Most of the people on my flight were oil rig workers. Helicopters met them at the Campos airport -- the size of a small American gas station -- to take them out to the rigs. The area had all the trappings of a modern industrialized society including those no one wants to mention: boredom, restlessness, ennui.
Yet unlike much of the modernized world, this otherwise ordinary region drinks from a river of life which flows through it, clear and pristine. In the western and northern hemisphere we are used to traditional parishes sparsely scattered throughout the country with at most one per city. In Campos however, a whole diocese exists of more than 30,000 faithful who live a life where the traditional liturgy is seamlessly interwoven into the daily fabric of their lives. One town alone can have three churches, a nursing home and shrines for pilgrimages in the countryside.
Residents take modern medicines, talk on modern cell phones and drive modern cars (although some could use newer ones!), but they can still appreciate the words, Introibo ad Altare Dei as an invitation into the supernatural dwelling place of God. Little did I expect on my first visit to hear the consoling and resounding response of 1500 faithful exclaiming, Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam. Thus my first visit to Campos several years ago brought me much joy. In unassuming ways the whole diocese, called canonically an apostolic administration, reminds the visitor of what we have lost but also of what is still possible. It brings hope…
Prior Benedict Nivakoff, OSB
Friends of Campos, Inc.
Friends of Campos, Inc. is a US-based not-for-profit (501c3) which supports the social and educational projects of the Personal Apostolic Administration of Saint John Mary Vianney, most of which are located around the diocese of Campos dos Goytacazes in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.