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Drum beat along the Amazon



Vow Ceremony in Amaturá

25/08/2008: Brazil

The confluence of the dark waters of the Igarapé Acuruy and the muddy waters of the Solimões make for a spectacle beyond words. We can also relate the experience which we had in that beautiful setting during the days preceding the memorable date of July 7, 2008. For it was there, in the magni-ficent setting of Amaturá, that the vow celebration of Brother Ronilson Simão dos Santos - as I will relate - took place.

The birthplace of Brother Ronilson is 1046 kilometers from the city of Manaus as the crow flies. By boat, the trip is 1307 kilometers. Amaturá has a population of about 4000, with an additional 5000 in the surrounding countryside. Amaturá was detached from São Paulo de Olivencia and de Fonte Boa twenty-six years ago.

The Capuchins have been in the city for several decades. They are in charge of the parish and of the congregation’s postulancy which serves the Capuchin vice-Province of Amazonia. It is worth noting that the regional superior, Father Paulo Xavier, is also from Amaturá, as are five other religious.

Wanting to prepare the people of the area properly for this important moment, Brothers Adélio Vier, Ary Suliani, Eder José, Francisco Barbosa and Francisco Marcos organized various meetings centered upon the theme of vocation. These Brothers attended the profession along with Brothers José Bairros and João Gutemberg and aspirant Luiz Vargas. We had gone up from Manaus to Amaturá by high speed launch, a trip requiring twenty-six hours. The return trip was a bit longer: fifty-five hours by ordinary boat. The voyage was unforgettable because of the pleasant relationship among the passengers and because of the very beautiful sights which are offered as one travels along the Solimões and its tributaries.

The days which we spent in Amaturá gave us the chance to enter quite intensively into contact with Brother Ronilson’s family, with the Capuchin community and with many local people. All were doing their utmost to give the celebration a community spirit. The spirit was shown clearly in the warm welcome given by those who received guests into their homes, in the invitations, and in the shared preparation of the liturgy which included some elements reflecting the local culture.

For the celebration which was held in the sports complex, several families provided tables and chairs. The decorations, plain and joyous, were set up the end of the regular workday with the kindly assistance of some family friends. The same assistance was offered by many people who came together to prepare the banquet for those attending the ceremony.

A sincere thank you to the parents of Ronilson, Laura and Raimundo, for their dedication. A similar thank you to their family who were so welcoming. All have contributed greatly to supporting the vocation of Brother Ronilson and to organizing the many details of the celebration.

Everything that took place focused on a central point: the « YES » cho-sen by Brother Ronilson for the sake of the Kingdom, as a man consecrated to Mary.

Alcimar Magalhães, Bishop of de Alto Solimões, honored us with his presence and presided the 7 P.M. Eucharist. The fine looking parish church restored only recently welcomed the Christian community, quite delighted to be around Ronilson at the moment when he professed his vows.

Sincere thanks to all the men and women who, in so many ways, participated in Brother Ronilson’s final profession in the Marist Brothers’ con-gregation: to those who took part in the celebration, offering their support and congratulations; to Alcimar Magalhães, Bishop of Alto Solimões. May our Good Mother keep Brother Ronilson every faithful and daring in following Christ in accord with his chosen motto, “He must increase and I must decrease” (John 3:30).

With fraternal greetings,
Br. João Gutemberg Sampaio

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