Blessed Sister Dulce - WYD2013 Patron of the Week

Last edited 5th November 2012

Blessed Sister Dulce - WYD2013 Patron of the Week

Blessed Irmã Dulce Pontes – more commonly known as Sister Dulce - was a Brazilian Catholic Franciscan Sister who was the founder of the Charitable Works Foundation of Sister Dulce. She lived from 1914 to 1992, so she is a truly a modern day Saint! In fact, she was even nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, and was recently named the most admired woman in the history of Brazil, as well as the most influential religious person of the 20th century in Brazil. She was beatified on 22 May 2011, only 9 years after her death.

Sister Dulce went to extraordinary lengths to serve the poor people of Brazil. In 1939, determined to care for the sick people who came to her for help, Sister Dulce started to shelter them in abandoned houses in what was known as the ‘rats' island’ district of Brazil – sounds charming! Then, she would go in search of food and medicine. Later, when she and her patients were evicted from the neighborhood, she started housing them in an old fish market, which is probably a step up from rat’s island, but still pretty awful. Once again they were kicked out by City Hall.

With over 70 people in her care, Sister Dulce was desperate – and so she turned to the Mother Superior of her convent and asked if she could set up an improvised hostel in the chicken yard (of all places). Her Superior reluctantly, agreed, as long as Sister Dulce could take care of the chickens - which she did, by feeding them to her patients. By 1960, this chicken yard became the Santo Antônio Hospital. Through the efforts of Sister Dulce, now, decades later, more than 3,000 people arrive every day to this same site to receive free medical treatment.

Sister Dulce started with nothing, and helped millions! We can’t all start hospitals, but you never know what good you can do by the smallest act of charity – you don’t need to be rich. Next time you see a homeless person begging on the street, buy them a cup of coffee and give them a smile. It could just make their day! But more importantly, it could renew their hope in humanity!

Intercede for us, oh "good angel of Brazil", so that we are able to joyfully share the gifts we have received with those in need who have been presented to us. Amen.

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