Spirit of Father Mata started after three couples from California visited one of the Aldeia da Paz homes, while visiting Brazil for the International Gathering of the Teams of Our Lady in the summer of 2012. The couples, who were already supporters of the Aldeia da Paz, were moved to action from the moment they walked into the home in Santo António near Brasilia. The home is one of four houses founded by Father Mata and run by the Sisters of the Missionaries of the Poor (also founded by Fr. Mata). As the couples approached the graffiti-marked walls of the Aldeia da Paz home, down an unpaved road in a ghetto, their insecurities rose. But when the Sisters opened the iron gates of the compound, the couples were overjoyed by the singing and dancing of the children who welcomed them!
These couples were profoundly touched by the passion and dedication of the Sisters as well as the needs of the children they served. The couples were particularly struck by the cleanliness of the facility and the children, and the resourcefulness of the Sisters. Every room in the home was brightly painted in various shades, with mismatched colorful tiles laid by the Sisters throughout the house.
The Sisters care for approximately one hundred needy children in this one home alone. The children are either orphaned or their parents are not able to care for them during the day because they work at least an hour’s bus ride away and return home very late in the evening. Were it not for the Sisters and the protection of the Aldeia da Paz walls, these children would be left to streets of Santo António where drug abuse, violent crime, and prostitution abound.
During their visit, the couples noticed the sheer joy that seemed to emanate from the home. The Sisters proudly showed the couples their projects and educational tools for the children, and invited the couples to stay for lunch. The children took their seats in an orderly fashion and not one child sat down until the prayer was said. The children and their guests were served their mainstay lunch meal at the home: rice, beans, and chicken feet (donated from a butcher in town). The vision of these children contently eating their meal of chicken feet was forever ingrained in the minds of the couples.
With the intercession of Father Mata, who passed away in September of 2011, the group is confident that it can meet and exceed its goals of providing support to all the Aldeia da Paz homes.