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Apostolic Movement

A Christmas dinner… in the streets, for the people of the streets

By: Taciana Ferreira

This year, the Schoenstatt Family of Olinda, in the state of Pernambuco, Brazil, organized the second edition of the Christmas dinner for homeless people. The initiative is conducted by the members of the “Mother Queen of Mercy” Project, which is run by members of the Schoenstatt Movement.

Father Vitor Hugo Possetti, rector of the Schoenstatt Shrine in Olinda, pointed out that the dinner provided more than 300 meals, which were prepared and served as a buffet, with tables, chairs, and tablecloths. There were also moments of prayer, music, performances, and reflection, preparing the heart for Christmas. Everything took place at Praça do Carmo, in Olinda, on December 13th.

More than food, the most important thing is love

Everything is done with great care because the evening’s guests are very special to us. They are our homeless brothers and sisters and the needy families in the area, who seek food in the squares every day. They are people we know and with whom the project shares weekly visits from the Mother Queen of Mercy. More than food, this fraternal evening is a service of love, respecting dignity, with a friendly approach. It is a night to celebrate Christmas among brothers and sisters.

Photos: Taciana Ferreira / Jacqueline Pereira

Ana Cristina Vasconcelos points out that the purpose of the Dinner is to provide a moment of camaraderie with those who receive the meals distributed by the project every Wednesday, since many do not have a similar dinner on Christmas Eve.

They look forward to this evening and draw closer to God

Valdecira Regina da Silva, former president of the Olinda Street population, says that for some years she was in charge of organizing the donations, so that there would be equality among those who receive the food. For her, who has been in the project since the beginning, this dinner is very important because often people do not even have enough to eat every day.

She also says that the goal of the Mother Queen of Mercy Project is to offer nourishment for the soul along with the meals. The special guests look forward to this evening, satisfy their hunger, thank God, and feel very happy.

Helping the most needy, which is us

Jaciara Mara Soares, one of the evening’s guests, declared: “The dinner was wonderful! It helps the most needy, which is us, the people of the street. I love the staff. They are like my family. This is one more year that I have participated, and I loved the program. It was very beautiful and we all loved it”.

Young Perola Vitória Soares, 13, Jaciara’s daughter, also states, “I love the staff at Mãe Rainha. The dinner was wonderful! I was joking that I liked the presentation of Mãe Rainha more than the dinner. We really liked it because they help us homeless people and also people who have homes but are in need. The dinner was more than good, it was perfect. We know they did it with a lot of care and love.”

Without last names, they are loved by the Blessed Mother and with lots of friends

Mr. Cesar, who does not know his full name, was at the dinner and said he participates every year. For him, the Word of God and the moments of prayer in front of the image of the Blessed Mother are very helpful. Larry, who also does not know his last name, shared: “The dinner was good! It’s great when Our Lady comes. I already have many friends in the group and I’m glad when they show up, because it’s very tough and dangerous on the street.”

From the Shrine to the street

The dinner for the homeless began during the pandemic. Some couples from the Family League distributed meals to people living around the Casa Caiada neighborhood. This led to the idea of taking the Christmas dinner to the Schoenstatt Shrine, Tabor of the New Evangelization. During the same period, the Mother Queen of Mercy project was created.

According to Father Vitor Possetti, the project began during Lent 2020. It is made up of members of the most diverse branches, communities and groups that make up the Schoenstatt Family. The missionary activities were developed throughout the period of isolation caused by Covid-19, and in 2021.

Due to the pandemic, it was not possible to hold the first dinner in 2021, but meals were distributed to those who had registered. In 2022, the Mother Queen of Mercy Project embraced the idea and addressed the challenges. They developed a menu to ask for food donations, got organized and the first dinner took place at Praça do Carmo.

Transforming society

Throughout the year, the Mother Queen of Mercy Project continues to help many people have access to basic sustenance. It is not possible for the project to solve the problems of all these homeless brothers and sisters. But one thing is possible: to do everything we can to help the Mother and Queen of Schoenstatt in the mission that God entrusts to her in the Shrine: to collaborate in the transformation of society, so that a new world can emerge.

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