Brazil – Fr Lima Cordeiro, SDB: "I did not stop being a native because I followed Salesian formation"

16 May 2019

(ANS - Manaus) - Fr Lima Cordeiro has been a Salesian since 2002 and a priest since 2010. Brazilian, currently Provincial Vicar, and Delegate for Youth Ministry and Missions of the Brazil-Manaus Province, he belongs to the indigenous people of Arapaso, who live on the banks of the Uaupés River and its tributaries in the Amazon. While the whole Church is preparing to live the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian Region, scheduled for next October, Fr Lima Cordeiro shares his personal integration process between indigenous reality and Catholic formation.

How did your choice to be a priest come about?

My story is closely linked to the evangelization of the Salesians of the Alto Rio Negro. In the course of the history of the evangelization of this land, a few were of passage, but the Salesians arrived in 1915, and from there they went to various territories, approaching the various ethnic groups along the Uaupés river, always engaged in the work of evangelization and education.

My parents were students of a Salesian institute and my vocation comes from the story of my parents. Then my desire to be a priest was born with the invitation of the Salesians to make an experience of Salesian life; I went to do this experience. I ended up staying until today.

How was the integration process, from indigenous to priest? Was it easy?

Not very. In my family we are 7 children. I am the youngest, and in the tradition of the Arapasos if the last child is male he has the task to take care of the parents: I would have had to marry, give them grandchildren, take care of my parents.

Having experienced Salesian boarding schools, my parents told me that my choice would not last long, because in religious houses there is a timetable for everything and according to them I would not have endured it. During my seven years of formation, up to my perpetual vows, my family hoped that I would renounce. I had difficulties in the relationship with my parents, but during the formation the Salesians started to show me another perspective.

What was your journey of identity, as a native and a priest. Has anything changed in living indigenous traditions?

Being indigenous regards your essence, your culture, your roots ... You can't let them go. On the contrary, things must integrate and I had to do this integration process ... That had to be done very well, in dialogue, with a good accompaniment ... My formators knew how to do a great job ... I have not stopped being indigenous because I followed Salesian formation; on the contrary, I feel more prepared and with a better indigenous identity. I believe that the Gospel is this, the meeting of cultures that transforms the human being and makes one live life in a different way. 

Source: Portal Amazônia


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