In the mid-1970s, the Columban Fathers were looking to expand their presence in Latin America, and had received invitations from Catholic dioceses in Bolivia and Panama.
The 1982 Columban General Assembly decided to research Brazil, the largest Latin American nation. Several Columban research teams had investigated the possibility of a Columban mission in Brazil, and recommended the Dioceses of Barreiras and Salvador in the country.
The first Columban Brazil Mission Unit consisted of eleven priests, including the newly-ordained Father Arturo Aguilar, who would later become the Columbans’ United States Regional Director.
In the summer of 1985, the priests completed several weeks of training in Bristol, Rhode Island. This was followed by Portuguese language school in the Brazilian capital city of Brasilia.
The Columbans arrived at their missions in December 1985. It was the start of a momentous Columban effort in a third South American country.
Although the Columban mission in Brazil officially ended in 1999, Columbans still maintain contact with the Church there.