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C 9 02Sr M. Kunigund (known as Elisabetha) Hellman, Sr M. Consuelo Salazar, Sr Margie (formerly Anthony Marie) Ferri, Sr M. Dietfrieda (known as Benedita) Moeckel, Sr M. Clare Elise Quigley

  C 9 01Father Benedict Dominic Vito Coscia, OFM, Mother Tarsicia Marie Fries, Sister Bathildis Thiel, Sister Mary Helen and Sister Maria Viktoria von Brentano, visiting a school in Pires do Rio, 1960
  C 9 04Sister Michael Kevin, later, Adelaide Link, playing with the kids, Jatai
  C 9 05SFP Community group photo on the first anniversary of the SFP Congregation presence in Pires do Rio, February 21, 1962
  C 9 06Sister Kunigunde (in Brazil, Elisabeth) Hellman and Sister Dietfrieda Moeckel with the children of the St. Francis Daycare Center in Ipameri, 1961
  C 9 07Caring for the disabled women at the Elderly Women’s Home, in Ipameri. 1966
  C 9 08Sister Anthony Marie (later, Margie) Ferri teaches the Postulants health care to homebound people. Pires do Rio, 1963
  C 9 09A Sister teaches children to make the sign of the cross Pires do Rio, 1963

Soon after his election in 1958 Pope John XXIII appealed to the world’s Catholics and religious orders, stressing the spiritual and physical needs of people in Latin America.   The Franciscan Sisters of the Poor eagerly responded to this call. In 1960 Father Dominic Coscia, O.F.M. wrote to Mother Tarsicia about the needs of his mission in the city of Pires do Rio and his desire to have our Sisters there. That September Mother Tarsicia Marie, Sister Marie Victoria Beck, and Provincials Sister Mary Helen Beeler and Sister M. Bathildis Becker flew to Brazil to explore the possibility of a new mission in Goias.    

On September 20 Father Dominic took the four Sisters to visit the poor section of Pires do Rio.  One morning a Sister asked Father Dominic if he had slept well.  He replied, “No, I was worried that Reverend Mother General will not send her Sisters here.”  Hearing this, Mother Tarsicia decided to use the faculty granted by the General Council in Rome: to consult the two Provincials and render a decision.  They unanimously decided that God willed our Sisters to work in Pires do Rio, as the activities of the mission were those characteristic of our Congregation and of Mother Frances Schervier.  Father Dominic seemed almost stunned by this news, then said, “Oh, Mother, how I thank you; let me go to the chapel at once.”  Kneeling, he said, “dear Jesus, how I thank you!  Oh, I am so happy!”  

Mother Tarsicia asked for volunteers of Sisters in permanent vows willing to serve in Brazil.  
128 Sisters volunteered and 5 were selected.  They were:
Sister M. Kunigund (known as Elisabetha) Hellman
Sister M. Consuelo Salazar
Sister M. Clare Elise Quigley
Sister M. Dietfrieda (known as Benedita) Moeckel
Sister Margie (formerly Anthony Marie) Ferri

The new foundation in Brazil was under the jurisdiction of the Generalate in Rome.  Sister M. Elisabetha was appointed local superior.

The mission in Pires do Rio officially opened on March 2, 1961. The first ministries were Our Lady of Angels Home, St. Anthony’s Soup Kitchen, and a clinic.  The Sisters also accompanied the Franciscan priests to outlying mission stations.

On September 14, 1961 Sister M. Clare Elise returned to the U.S for medical treatment.  A second group of Sisters, M. Bernice Uhlenhake, Madeline Marie Hill, and Maria Assunta Galope, arrived in November.
In early 1962 four women entered as the first Brazilian Postulants.  They were:
Maria Pereira (Sister Maria Goretti), Maria Silva (Sister Maristella), Genova Martins (Sister Maria Cristina) and Geni Maria Batista (Sister Maria Bernadete). Sister M. Consuelo was Mistress of Novices and Postulants.   They were invested on December 8, 1962
On December 12, 1961 Father Dominic Coscia, O.F.M. was installed as the first Bishop of Jatai and took the name Dom Bendito.  He asked the Sisters to open a home for children in Jatai.  In 1962 Sisters Bernice and Madeline Marie arrived in Jatai and opened the Lar e Creche Joao XXIII.  Sisters Adelaide (Mary Michael) Link and Maria Assunta joined them in December.  

C 9 014Sister Anthony Marie (Margie) Ferri, an obstetric nurse, with the doctor of the maternity hospital. Pires do Rio, 1963With a second house of the Congregation, Brazil was established as a Mission territory Sister M. Elisabetha was appointed as the first Superior. Sisters M. Bernice and Margie were appointed to assist Sister M. Elisabetha.

Lar Vincentino in Ipameri, Goias, our third house in Brazil, opened on October 25, 1964.  Sisters Mary David Mulroy, Gemma Marie and M. Benedita were missioned to the new house.  They operated a crèche for children and an asilo for developmentally disabled adults.   Sisters Mary Maloney (Mary Kevin) and Rita Kruthaupt (Rose Agnes) later joined the community.  In 1969 these two sisters moved into a community house in the Boa Vista barrio of Ipameri.  Many of the children from the creche lived in this neighborhood.  
In 1964 two properties were purchased in Goiania.  One of the properties, a chachara or small farm, was identified as a site for a Juniorate. On March 25, 1965 Juniorato Sao Francisco was formally established.  On January 6, 1966 the Junior Professed moved into their new Juniorate.  It closed in 1968 due to the small number of temporary professed Sisters. In 1969 the former Juniorate in Goiania was re-opened as the administrative Casa of the Mission Territory.

In 1968 Dom Gilberto Pereira Lopes, the first bishop of Ipameri, asked Sister Madeline Marie to serve as Co-Coordinator of Caritas in the Diocese, a ministry she continued until 1975 when she returned to the US.  She returned to Brazil in 1979 after earning her Practical Nurse License. At the request of the next bishop, Dom Antônio Ribeiro de Oliveira, she was missioned to Campo Alegre.  She served as pastoral assistant and ministered to the spiritual and physical needs of the parish.  In February, 1983 Sisters Madeline Marie and Lucia Borges were missioned to the city of Cristalina, Goias for three years to work in a parish and administer the Creche Cirandinha.  
In November, 1983 a mission opened in Carambei, Parana, our first mission in Brazil outside the state of Goias. Father Theodoro Kopp, a former Poor Brother of St. Francis, was pastor of the local church.  He invited the Sisters to work in his parish.  Sisters Daniel Marie, Bernadette and Mary David volunteered for the new mission.  They lived and worked in Vila Boqueirao.  There was a day care center, clinic and, a small mission church.  The Sisters were engaged in religious instruction and pastoral work.  They continued the mission until 1989.
In 1993 Sr. Maria Lucia Barbosa de Oliveira moved to the State of Mato Grosso with the goal of living with and ministering to indigenous people. She remained there until 2002 when she was missioned to Pires do Rio.

In those years, the Sisters were mostly engaged in the field of education, especially of young children, and in services the poor. They kept on spreading the Charism of Mother Francis in this beautiful country.


C 9 010The Soup Kitchen in Pires do Rio. Christmas 1961 C 9 011Sister Bernice Uhlenhake teaching. Jataí, 1962

C 9 012Sister Helena Paula Carvalho leading a Gathering of the educational program and support group for hypertension and diabetes patients. Pires do Rio, 1994 C 9 013The Brazilian SFP Community gathered for the image installation of Our Lady of the Poor

C 9 15Celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the SFP presence in Brazil. Pires do Rio, 1980

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Published: August, 18, 2016