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12 April

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Br. James Pinheiro dos Santos



Interview with the members of The International Commission Brothers Today

02/11/2013: Brazil

The International Commission Brothers Today met in Rome in July. On this occasion, we spoke with some of its members. We present today a conversation with Br. James Pinheiro dos Santos, from the Province of Brazil Centro-Norte.


Tell us about yourself

I am Brazilian, from the state of  Maranhão, from a city called Balsas. I am the youngest of three children and the third Marist Brother in my family.   The other two Marist brothers are my uncles Joaci Pinheiro and Joarês Pinheiro.  I have lived my vocation and mission in the Province of Brazil Centro-Norte since 1999, when I entered the Institute. I have already worked in some mission initiatives. I would like to highlight my interest  in the Youth Centres and provincial coordination of Vocational Ministry. 

Currently (2013-2015) I am responsible for some provincial bodies, in the executive sector of the Province whose mission is to articulate the Commission for Formation and Religious Life (formation, communities, young brothers, average age brothers, community animators, house for the elder brothers etc.) and the Commission for The Marist Heritage and Spirituality ( Centres of Historic Preservation, etc.) and the Commission for Ministry (vocational animation, evangelization and laity).  Apart from this specific mission within the Province, I am a member of the Commission for Religious Life and Laity in UMBRASIL, the sub-commission of Brothers of America and International Commission Brothers Today.


What does it mean to be a brother today?

It means to follow Champagnat's teachings and love youth. Thinking that another world is possible, that we can grow individually and as a community in all the fields of human life. Being a brother today means to radically embrace Jesus' cause, as a meaningful presence among people, helping them achieve happiness. It means to be a positive model and witness among children, youngsters and adolescents, showing the worthiness of having a brotherly vocation in today’s world.


Is vocations ministry an important mission for the Institute? How should it be carried out?

Vocations ministry can be achieved only by being passionate about our own vocation. This is a vital task for the Institute, for lay people to embrace the Marist charism and mission, and for youngsters to follow Jesus of Nazareth, like Mary and our brothers. .

I think that a vocations ministry supported by processes, personal experiences, bonds and a project of life, should be a priority for the Institute, provinces, communities, brothers and laity. We mustn't stop thinking that there are young people interested in our charism today. What we sometimes lack is enthusiasm and commitment towards this cause.

We need specific people who can freely commit themselves. We need materials, resources and to carefully plan our actions, guarantee appropriate accompaniment processes and methods. A specific vocational itinerary customized to Marist reality and especially people (brothers and lay) to animate and help all those who feel a special call.


Almost 200 years have gone by since the Institute was founded: what are the challenges for the brothers today? Are the challenges Marcellin faced still valid?

I think there are great challenges that brothers must tackle in religious life and the mission. How can we accommodate religious life and management at the service of the mission? Also internationality is one of the great challenges of today. We as brothers belong to the Institute and not to a specific Province. Another challenge are the bonds and commitments in living in lively and dynamic communities, with vocational ministry that embraces all different vocations. 

The challenges addressed by Champagnat are topical and relevant, and they encourage us to go back to our roots and feel the true reason of our Institute: teaching children, youngsters, adolescents and adults to love and follow Jesus. 


What particular experiences are the brothers in your region living that could be a model for the institute?

I think that our region's vocational ministry can help the Institute, by sharing initiatives. We have set this as our provincial priority in the two last Chapters: investing people, resources and time in achieving this goal.

We are currently beginning to see and implement other vocational projects: virtual accompaniment, vocational groups managed by lay people, either from ChMMF or collaborators, in cities that do not know Marist Brothers, people who are undergoing formation who from the very beginning cooperate in building a vocational development, formation of Provincial vocational animators and competence in the formation of animators from other congregations. These are some of the experiences that we have successfully implemented and must clearly continue.

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