'"Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me."
Jesus all, all of Jesus. This is the phrase that covers and summarizes the entire Charism of the Sisters of the Poor of Jesus Christ. There is in us a deep will and even a daring desire, to want Jesus entirely and to be totally His. The Gospel lived “sine glossa” offers us the sure way by which we can embody all His life in our own lives.
We are attracted by Jesus who, stripping himself totally of His divine condition, became a poor, humble servant: an unreserved gift and sacrifice for all mankind (2 Phil 1-14). We want the Word-made-man poor in Bethlehem, anonymous in Nazareth, pilgrim on the roads, abandoned on Golgotha, raised by the Father, and glorified with Him. We want Jesus announcing that the Kingdom has arrived and is among us, but also withdrawing in silence to pray and intercede for men with the Father - Jesus who has life in abundance to give, but who also offers the narrow path of the Cross.
Everything began in the South Zone of São Paulo, in a neighborhood that had a name that seemed like a town in the country, Vila Natal. If appearances deceive, then names also. Our Vila Natal was nothing like a country town. The reality that Fr. Gilson encountered was one of youth marked by the dramas of those who live on the periphery of the largest city of Brazil: poverty, trafficking, crack, alcohol, violence, unemployment, shattered families…
The spiritual solution that he sought, was to hold retreats for these young adults, and through personal contact where they resided- in the places where drug sales and use were high. This alone, however, was not sufficient to help them. So our founders, Fr. Gilson and Sonya (who later became Sister Servant), made the decision together with some young people, to rent a house which would welcome and shelter young adults who wanted to get away from drugs and violence.
Evoking this first chapter of our history, Fr. Gilson often says that this was an act of profound faith: “With faith and courage we rented a house without having any money in our pockets.” This is what happens with everyone who chooses to place themselves on the side of those on the fringes of society. This is learning to live with faith.
The “favored children” (women and men whom we shelter in our houses), began to come, and with them came other young adults who wanted to help. At that point, Fr. Gilson felt God wanted something more from us. The house of shelter was only the pretext that God used to get us together and begin a new Charism in the Church. Thus we were born!
The community received the name of “Fraternity of Missionaries of The Way”, in reference to the first Christians who were called “Men of the Way” (Acts 9:1-2). With this name, the Founder desired that through the example of Jesus, we could encounter the poorest of the poor in the situations in which they lived, and, like Him, make ourselves their neighbors. Do good without the need for an overly bureaucratic organization or overly complicated structures. This first intuition - to be a “Samaritan Community” - became the most visible mark of our Fraternity.
Our work with young adults involved in the trafficking and use of drugs, led us to the large prison located in Pinheiros, São Paulo. This prison with a maximum capacity of 2,000, actually held 5,000 prisoners. Inmates called it the “hell of Pinheiros.”
We were also led to Socorro Chapel, a commercial neighborhood where there were many homeless, and many of whom were young adults.
At this time, with the help of a great friend and benefactor of ours, Bruce Patrick, pf California, we acquired our first two houses. The first mission house was “Saint Teresa of Calcutta,” which shelters elderly from the streets and those who are sick. The second mission house, Saint Francis of Assisi, assists young drug addicts.