October 18, 2010

Dear Family and Friends

Glad to hear from you and know you're fine, busy as ever. Same here -- fine, and really busy! I spent almost two weeks in Mineiros, where I participated in the 39th Mens' Fishing-Trip Spiritual Retreat (there were 238. Yes,238!!) of us. Then on Sunday, Sept. 12th we had a wonderful celebration for my 50 years as priest and 20 years as bishop, with lots of moving testimonies. Then from Sept. 17th to the 19th, the 34th 'Womens 'Retreat (there were 264 of us!!! Two priests, 262 women and me). It's great to see that my confreres have continued these retreats that I started and which have spread to other parishes in the Jataí Diocese and even to neighboring 'Dioceses! Talks by laymen and women (Husband/Wife, Father/Mother, Service (in church and civic organizations), Prayer, the 'Blessed Virgin) were really fantastic! It's a time of special graces for the whole Mineiros community and others that participate.

I've also been on the run with our Human Rights courses and events and also busy with trying to make people aware of the strong religious/political/social/economic issuses involved in the state and federal elections (legilstive and executive on both state and federal levels). Abortion is a hot issue, but also political corruption, lack of government social programs for the extremely poor (millions and millions), urgent Land Reform (1% of the landholders have in their hands over 45% of the farmable land and have strong lobbying in the government, as well as corrupt judges on their side), Slave Labor, Police Violence, apathy of the voters and "buying of votes" by unscrupulos candidates, etc., etc.

The day after tomorrow (Monday), I leave in the wee hours to fly out of Palmas to São Paulo for our annual "Bispos Amigos" recycling course. It's ecumenical and on the level of Latin America -- usually a good group from Mexico, some from Ecuador, Argentina, Chile. We used to have one or two from Peru and Paraguay, but they haven't participated recently. This year the main theme is "Christian Economics". We always have an Analysis of the Conjuncture -- political and religious -- of each country present. Always extremely rich and inspiring. I've come to know some of the "giants" of Latin America, many who have had death threats and even attempts on their lives because of their profetic denouncing of injustices!

I'm rather pressed, since I had to do a lot of my "history" for the Cristalândia celebration (I forgot to mention it, it was on October 1st) and Fr. Denis at the Abbey is doing an update on Kansas Monks -- St. Benedict's history until 1957, he was aked to bring it up to the pesent. He has aked me for a contribution, especially about our mission in Brazil. Also, next March the Mineiros priory commemmorates 50 years of Benedictine missionary apostolate, and since I am the only living member here in Brazil (Abbot Ralph returned to the States in 1975) who experienced our "origins", they want me to contribute for some of our history. I don't know when I'll get around to all of this!. On the way back frjom São Paulo I'll stop for three days in Goiânia for our Regional bishop's meeting. Then we have some more Human Rights events, Soon after we'll have All Saints and All Souls' Days. We Brazilian bishops leave for Rome on November 11 th and will, as I mentioned, visit German Catholic Funding Agencies after our Ad Limina visit, returnig to Brazil only on the 27th. Then there's Advent and Christmas and New Year's.... What is "retirement" -- getting "tired" again?

Please pray for some "special intentions" of people that I'm working with in counseling and spiritual direction.. Thanks.

Love and Prayers,
+Herbert, O.S.B.