Testimonies by Ernesto Olivero and Rosanna Tabasso on the beginning of the Sermig adventure in Brazil.
Miracles are on the agenda. Just believe. Just let them come to meet us.
It is December 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of Latin America. Dom Luciano, some friends of the fraternity and I are in São Paulo and we are about to be received by Dona Marta, head of the “Secretaria da criança, familia e bem-estar social” of the State of São Paulo. We are going to receive the official "No" for our entry into the "Immigrant House" that at first it seemed the government wanted to give us.
My heart is very free, yes or no do not interest me, the only thing that interests me is to discern what the Lord wants from us. We are sitting on a low sofa, waiting for the call. No is in the air, it only has to formalize and become official, but it is a certainty. I gather in prayer and "feel" in my heart that the Arsenal will be ours. I open the Bible and look for a prayer of thanks. I write "yes" and the date.
We enter the office, the meeting is solemn, but - it is clear - with no way out: Dona Marta and her officials gently and firmly explain the reasons for the no. From time to time Dom Luciano looks at me curiously, he realizes that my head is elsewhere. It is my turn to speak, with Dom Luciano translating; I have the Bible in front of me and I begin to explain that the Arsenal of São Paulo will be the eighth wonder of the world, that by 2000 we will welcome 1000 people and we will create a hermitage of prayer, a school to teach crafts and an important point for young people .
While he is translating, Dom Luciano looks at me as if to say: “Didn't you hear that they already said no to you?”. He catches a glimpse of the astonished faces of Dona Marta and the others. When I finish speaking, Dona Marta and her collaborators exchange a quick glance of understanding and simply reply: “Okay, we accept the proposal. The Arsenal is yours, but you must call it the Arsenal of Hope and erase the old name that people had given it: "House of pain".
I hand Dom Luciano the Bible with my note: "Yes". He closes his eyes as he does, cries and laughs with a joy that is prayer.