The pilgrimage to Aparecida

Brazil: "Towards Aparecida, in the company of my solitude"

On the night of 5-6 October, the communities of the movement of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro went on pilgrimage from Guaratinguetá to the shrine of the patron saint of Brazil. Anelise recounts her experience along the way.

Adult life could be a bunch of disappointments, because I found out I was alone in the world. I got married at twenty-four, and I soon realized that my husband could not answer to my need to be fulfilled. At twenty-five, my first daughter was born and I thought, "Now yes!". Instead, I had my second child, then the third, the fourth... And they, growing up, merely teenagers, began to make me realize that they wanted to grow up and go outside the house to build their own story. And this is without taking into account the numerous disappointments from friends, relatives…But, within all this, the work of School of Community is a constant provocation to “enter” into the word solitude, to really experience this discovery that adult life brings us.

“The meaning of solitude is born in the heart of every serious commitment to one's own humanity. He who believes that he has found the solution to a great need in something or someone can understand this well: and this disappears, goes away, or proves incapable.” Fr. Julián De La Morena introduced our nocturnal pilgrimage to Aparecida with these words by Giussani. He began by making us think that that path was like life itself, at various times we would feel tired, at others more motivated, but we would continue to follow.

Along the way, there in the middle of the fields, bearing my intentions, as well as my pain, it was impossible not to feel small. Alone. Alone amongst almost two hundred people; however, in the unity of that companionship. There, in the middle of the night, sometimes wavering, I understood that the companionship is not my "group" of friends, with whom I have the greatest affinity in the world.

In companionship, I need to experience the security of walking in the dark, just as I did in that night (with my husband and Sofia, my eldest daughter), within that unity I couldn’t be afraid of the dark, of my limits, of not being able…I couldn't even worry about the other three children left at home. I could be alone. Free. I felt confident in being small, in simply taking one step after another. There, in the midst of two hundred people, almost without being able to see the faces of others in the dark, I was certain to go ahead and follow Him who makes my eyes shine...

Anelise, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil