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Medeiros (Brazil) -- On a lost island


The island of Medeiros is located off the coast of the State of Paraná. It is accessible only by boat, and requires a trip of two and a half hours. One hundred and fifty fishing families live there, in precarious material and spiritual conditions.

Marumbí and Sumaré, two Centers for young people in Curitaba and São Paulo respectively, joined forces in preparing a social service project on the island. It took place in the month of July, during the winter vacation.

The group of volunteers numbered more than fifty, most of them university students. The project included reconstruction of the Catholic chapel, renovation of a school, laying down a cement path to permit access to the church and school during the rainy season (when the pathways become an impassible sea of mud), a campaign of dental care, and an educational program for the children.

A priest of the Opus Dei Prelature stayed at the camp and celebrated Mass each day for the volunteers and the local population. He also heard confessions and gave talks on human and spiritual formation and catechism classes.

Encouraged by the warm reception they received from the people living there, the students worked cheerfully for over eight hours a day. The local people were eager to help out in the work projects, and families in the village often invited students to eat in their own homes. The mayor of the closest mainland city and other municipal authorities visited the island twice to accompany the work of the volunteers. At the end of their stay, a Mass was held in which the whole community on the island took part. The students are enthusiastic about the possibility of repeating this service experience in upcoming vacation periods.

Romana, No. 45, July-December 2007, p. 320.