From Brumadinho, in the region of Minas Gerais, Brazil, the closing celebration of Laudato Si’ Week was held. The local archbishop, Monsignor Vicente Ferreira, celebrated a moment of prayer that included moving gestures towards the victims of the climatic tragedies that have occurred in the region.

The tribute to the victims

Before the beginning of the celebration, a special moment was held to remember the 273 victims who have suffered the consequences of the climatic tragedies in the region, particularly the one that occurred on January 25, 2019 in Brumadinho, “the greatest environmental tragedy of our country”. Next to the altar, a pillar with the photos of the victims and the words memory, reparation, justice and integral ecology was observed.

They also remembered “all the victims of other tragedies caused by greed, ambition and disrespect”. All of them “are in our memory and strengthen our cry for all lives to be valued and respected, in a new possible world”, mentioned the guiding animator.

WATCH: Closing prayer from Brumadinho here:

Bishop Vicente Ferreira

After reading the Gospel, Bishop Ferreira thanked all those present and mentioned art as “a new way of living with creation”. Speaking about the reading of the book of Wisdom, he said that “human beings cannot take the place of God. Every time they took God’s place, things did not work out well.”

The bishop affirmed that “understanding God is one of the greatest challenges of today’s society”, warning about the danger of placing money and greed at the center, which many people experience; and in the end “the owners of the economy forget to protect the heart of our world”.

He then mentioned mining, which in the region of Minas Gerais “is hurting our land, it is hurting Brazil in the Amazon and also in the indigenous lands. All these things show us how far we are from creation”, he reflected, recalling that those who suffer most from these consequences are the poor and the indigenous communities.

“Why has the Brumadinho disaster been ignored? What happened in the hearts of the mothers who lost their children?” he then asked and affirmed, “The word of God reminds us that everything is connected.” 

Finally, Bishop Ferreira said that “only the heart of the poor and humble can understand this message”, addressing each of those present and those connected by the networks: “You need to have a kind heart for the wisdom of God to reach you”.

Regina, mother of a victim

Next, representing the Association of Victims’ Families, Mrs. Regina, who lost her 29-year-old daughter Priscila, gave her testimony. “My daughter did everything she had to do in this life for God”. “She left this world with one of the most violent and cruel ways one can die,” expressed the mother, in tears. 

Recalling the catastrophe in which her daughter died, and others in succession, she told those present: “We have had droughts and floods and yet today we are not collaborating to avoid this. We don’t realize that it depends on our actions,” encouraging people to reduce their consumerism, and added: “We cannot allow the mining companies to do what they want in our city. We have to be united and take action.”

Later, a light ceremony was held. The Paschal Candle entered through the central aisle of the temple and all the people present lit candles. “May your light be born in our hearts and shine with love and grace, radiating hope for the multitudes”, expressed the song. 

Regina lighting her candle in the light ceremony.

Young people from the community read a prayer for our Earth: “Pour upon us the strength of your love to care for life and beauty. Fill us with peace so that we may live as brothers and sisters.” They prayed to the God of the poor to heal the lives of everyone present, “so that we may sow beauty and not contamination or destruction”.

The bishop then asked for a moment of silence to remember the 273 victims. He invited those present to remember those who died and to say their names aloud, observing their faces in the light of the candles that each one held in their hands. 

During the final prayer, Monsignor Ferreira invited to look at the Virgin Mary, who also had to suffer the loss of her son, Jesus, and the whole assembly sang the Magnificat. The Bishop of Minas Gerais thanked all those who worked to make the prayer possible. “We can go in peace and hope, and end this Laudato Si’ Week.”