Columban History in Brazil

February 15, 2010

Columban Father Colin McLean, pictured here with Brazilian youths, is the lone Columban priest in Brazil.

In 1984, it was decided that the dioceses of Barreiras and Salvador in Brazil had urgent needs and that we actively seek personnel for a new mission there. In 1985, 11 Columbans arrived in the state of Bahia to work among the poor in those dioceses.

In the coastal city of Salvador, Columban missionaries were entrusted with two new parishes in the densely populated shantytowns on the outskirts of the city. Within a few years, Columbans took responsibility for neglected areas within other existing parishes.

The people, mostly African-Brazilians, live in extreme poverty. Although most are baptized, they know very little about their faith. Many don’t even know the story of Jesus.

Columbans in Salvador concentrated on developing basic Christian communities, forming lay leaders and organizing programs that promote the material needs of the people.

As these communities have grown, modest community centers were built where the people come together for worship, catechetical instruction, Bible study and social activities that help them improve their lives.

These centers were also used to serve the material and social needs of the people. Classes on health care, instructions on ways and skills to improve their lives were also provided.

In recent years, the mission to Brazil had to be dramatically scaled back, and just one Columban priest now works in special ministry in Brazil.