1014418 1569280653293434 3053035281791354866 nMy name is Rafael de Oliveira Souza, I'm from São Paulo (SP), I am 27 years and I specialize in journalism. My life as a Dominican actually began before being Dominican. Seems confusing, but I'll explain. I entered the charism in 2004 in the parish church where I grew up. For five years, together with my friends from church, I lived the Vincentian and Jesuit charism more intensely. In 2009, I had the opportunity to meet the Dominican family, and from that meeting, it helped me encounter the Dominican Youth Movement of Brazil (MJD-BR). I took a hiatus from 2010 until late 2012, from sharing in the church - but they were still learning years.

Well, the purpose of this introduction is to show that the path leading up to meeting the Order of Preachers allowed me to become a lay Dominican. And how nice that all these experiences have led me to the Dominicans, because this union of "living things" brought me to the Tocantins, Northern Brazil to work on the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) and enjoy a completely and truly different experience than what was experienced in the state capital.

The CPT was introduced to me in September 2013, during the Meeting of Justice and Peace of the Dominican Family in Goiânia (GO). There I met with Brother Xavier Plassat, OP. When he learned of my desire to breathe fresh air away from São Paulo, Xavier almost immediately invited me to "an experience of a few days" in those parts. This experience has spanned eight months - and why couldn’t I stop thinking about it?

Thus, from January 2014 I began work as a pastoral worker. The mission of the CPT,  summed up in a few words, is to follow - either in training or legal framework - peasant communities (as) fighting for a land or internal security. We still have a commission in most states, which operates in the prevention and the fight against modern slavery. In a scenario like this, where we walked straight into the exploitation of large landowners and agribusiness, moments of conflict and tension are common. Not infrequently, farmers and tillers are threatened with death or have their homes and crops destroyed by squatters.

Constantly CPT agents, visit the rural workers in the settlements, camps and occupations. I dare say it's more rewarding to be able to live in the place that the people of this land live. That is, networks sleep in the thatched hut without electricity, eating a chicken with rice, pumpkin and vegetables planted by the farmers themselves. But above all, in practice we realize that farmers can themselves be protagonists of their stories, simply give them the chance can allow this to happen.

Although my journey as a missionary is only beginning, I see no other way to live, but to live authentically. The inspiration for working with little to be renewed in the examples of the martyrs, like Father Josimo, Frei Tito, extractive couple Claudio and Maria, farmer Gabriel Hijo and many others. And always keep in mind and heart the warning made by a great friend, not to do this mission work to be good or a better person, but because the goal is Christ!

 
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