SASKATOON – Four remaining Brazil missionaries from the Diocese of Saskatoon will return home in the summer of 2014.
Sisters Louise Hinz and Claire Novecosky of the Ursulines of Bruno, and Sisters Jeannine Rondot and Marie-Noelle Rondot of the Sisters of Mission Service recently announced that they will all leave Brazil next year.
Their departure will end an ongoing diocesan missionary presence in Brazil that has existed for 50 years.
"After much discernment, prayer, listening to the signs of the love of two countries, of two families – and now with a divided heart – we prepare to say farewell to these beautiful Brazilian sisters and brothers, knowing that they will always remain in our hearts, as they have shared so much of their Christian legacy with us," Novecosky writes from Marechal Deodoro in the Archdiocese of Maceió, where she and Hinz serve.
Novecosky has been there since 1973, Hinz since 1987.
"This was no small discernment and decision, but with the grace of God, we both clearly feel and believe the time has come," said Sister Marie-Noelle Rondot, writing from São José da Laje, where she and her sibling Sister Jeannine Rondot, have lived and worked.
The Sisters of Mission Service have provided a "ministry of presence" since they discerned a call to Brazil in 1993.
"Looking back, we are filled with gratitude. Looking ahead, we are filled with a mixture of many feelings – but believing that God will undoubtedly provide as we take each step along the way," writes Sister Marie-Noelle.
Saskatoon Bishop Donald Bolen expressed gratitude for the decades of service provided by the missionaries, and the positive impact of the mission on two dioceses.
The announcement by the two religious orders that they will leave their missions is a time for the diocese to give "profound thanks" for the ministry of all who served in the Brazil mission over the last 50 years, Bolen said.
The bishop said that in the months ahead there will be discernment about possible future involvement in Brazil.
This will also be a time to remember the Brazil missionaries who have died, including Benedictine Father Syl Vredegoor, who was killed in an accident there while in the service of others, he added.
Father Les Paquin of the Brazil Mission Awareness Committee, said the relationship between the dioceses will continue.
The Brazil Mission had its beginnings in the days – and the theology – of the Second Vatican Council, when Archbishop Adelmo Machado of Maceió spoke about the needs of Brazil to Saskatchewan bishops in Rome for the council, including Bishop Francis Klein of Saskatoon and Abbot Jerome Weber of St. Peter's Abbacy, Muenster.
Klein was moved by the Brazilian archbishop's request, as well as by the appeal of Pope Paul VI for Catholic leaders to address the disparity between rich and poor nations of the world.
In response, the Saskatoon bishop established the diocesan Mission in União dos Palmares in northeastern Brazil in 1964. The original team consisted of Fathers Don Macgillivray, Bernard Dunn and Bob Ogle, and two lay nurses, Ida Raiche and Cecile Poilièvre.
A short time later, St. Peter's Abbacy sent its first two missionaries, Benedictine Fathers Alvin Hergott and Sylvester Vredegoor, to the Maceió area.
Over the years, several diocesan priests and Benedictines as well as members from several women's orders served in the Brazilian missions.