Shalom Community of Brazil brings joy to heart of youth in Madrid
God began the most beautiful work of his hands, the church, with one breath. As John describes in his gospel, “Jesus said, 'Shalom! Recieve the Holy Spirit. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” In Brazil there is a community that brings that same peace and joy that Jesus sent to everyone who crosses their path. It's name is Shalom.
It all began in 1980 when Moyses Azevedo was chosen to present one of the offertory gifts to John Paul II during his visit to Brazil. After some reflection he decided to offer the best of his youth. Thus, like a breath from God, the seed was planted for the Shalom Community.
Following that experience Azevedo felt God asking him to do something to bring youth closer to the Church. He decided to open a café. There was something different about this café; all the products sold there had biblical names. That drew questions from the young customers and gave the staff a chance to talk about Christ in an uncommon setting. There was also a chapel in this café where customers could pray if they wanted to.
The community and it's members radiate that joy that is generally associated with the Brazilian character but with something extra. Cristiano Pinheiro, a consecrated member of the community who serves as a missionary in Rome says, “our joy comes from a personal encounter with Christ in prayer.”
The community has two main branches, “life” and “aliance.” In the former, men and women dedicate their lives to following Christ in community. The latter is made up of people who still dedicate their lives to following Christ in acordance with the rule of the community, but they stay with their families and continue to work in the world in their usual jobs.
Shalom's sprituality is based on St. Francis' way of living the Gospel and St. Theresa's way of praying. Members of consecrated branch of the community begin their day with with a morning prayer, and dedicate their afternoons to apostolic work with youth.
A term frequently used by Shalom members is “parresia,” which means being open and willing to talk about Christ. One example of this is the Halleluya music festival that Shalom has been staging for the past 14 years in Fortaleza, Brazil. This Christian music festival began as an alternative to the two biggest off-season Carnaval festivals; a light in the darkness. This little festival continued and grew. Today the Halleluya festival draws more people than each of the two off-season Carnaval festivals. In the last weekend of June 2011, Halleluya drew more than 970,000 people.
The festival offers everything a mainstream music festival would offer and features a wide variety of musical performances plus a massive eucharistic adoration session on the main stage. There are also tents for prayer, and of course, all the performers are Christian.
At WYD Madrid, Shalom will have a stand at the Vocations Fair and several members of the community will take part in the Cultural program. A group of 500 young people from the community have come from Brazil to experience this festival of faith.
Shalom is like the breath of Christ descending over everyone to announce the resurrection. From Fortaleza, begining with a small, simple offering of one ordinary young man who just wanted to give the best of himself to the universal church.