The Catholic Shalom Community was founded in 1982 in Brazil. Its members include young people, families, married couples and priests, who live in so-called „life communities“ and are dedicated to the work of evangelization and Christian instruction, above all among young people. Central to the life of the community and its 3,000 or so members in 20 different countries is the daily celebration of Holy Mass, together with personal prayer, meditation on the Sacred Scriptures and the radical decision to follow Jesus Christ.
Last year ACN gave Mass stipends for a total value of 9,200 Euros for the 19 priests of the community living in Brazil. The Mass stipends are individual offerings by our benefactors, in the form of money or other small gifts, in return for which the priest agrees to celebrate Holy Mass for the benefactor‘s intentions. There is no suggestion here of „paying“ for the Holy Mass, but rather of a fraternal Christian gesture of gratitude and support for our priests, who do not shrink from difficulties or sacrifice in proclaiming Christ and offering Him in the Eucharist for our sakes.
One of these 19 priests is 46-year-old Father Jairo Barbosa Leite. He has been a member of the Shalom community for 25 years. However, in October 2015, while inspecting the renovation work being done on his parish church, he fell nearly 20 feet and has been paralysed ever since. Yet he refuses to speak of the accident as a „disaster“ or a „blow of fate“, but declares instead, „Naturally it was a shock, when I realised that I would be permanently paralysed from now on. Then I understood that this was no burden, but rather a grace. Many people think that you can only be happy if everything is going well. But I am happy, and I feel I have been given a special grace – precisely because I now find myself totally dependent on others. And I can even reach out to people who are far from faith, for they inevitably ask themselves how it is that I can still be happy. But I see it as God‘s Providence. Even while sitting paralysed in a wheelchair, I can recognise what value my service still has, through my life of prayer, the night vigils, the celebration of the Eucharist, hearing Confessions and the educational courses I am still able to offer. I am happy to know that God can use my priesthood in this way. How good it is, despite my weaknesses, to be able to entrust my sins to God and witness to his intervention!“
On behalf of all his fellow priests, Father Jairo thanks us for the Mass stipends offered by our benefactors. „I want to thank all the benefactors of your charity and to assure them that their donations are helping to save souls, through the Church and the men of the Church whose ministry continues throughout the world.“