Brazil: A presence in solidarity

Founded in 1967 by a community of some 20 Jesuits, CEAS, a social centre of the Bahia Province, is run today by a group of lay professionals with the assistance of a single Jesuit. The centre is a not- for-profit organisation working with the marginalised in both rural and urban areas. It offers an array of activities ranging from animating and mobilising social movements to formation and cultural promotion. The centre?s modus operandi and mission are distinctive –to work together with the target groups (small farmers, landless peasants, urban workers and displaced people) and help them become agents of their own destiny and promoters of their own rights. Iran Costa, a collaborator of CEAS, was one of the six lay persons invited to participate in the meeting of the Social Apostolate coordinators. A social researcher and lecturer in Economics at the Universidade Catolica do Salvador, he is in charge of the cultural promotion unit of the centre which produces a series of publications. Notable among these is Cadernos do CEAS, offering in-depth analysis of social issues. Another is a series of ?people?s? magazines directed at those groups whose activities are supported in the field by CEAS. Although the Jesuit presence within the centre has now been greatly reduced, Iran feels that the Ignatian soil in which the centre has its roots is an important element of the centre?s action. He told Headlines that the centre?s mobilising work (pastoral solidarity or pastoral solidaria) carries its own specificity. Two important characteristics of CEAS intervention are, first, that they are a ?presence in solidarity;? and secondly, that they constitute a wholly gratuitous presence. This means that the focus is not so much on the result as on the way in which the work is carried out –living in a community and listening to the people. Iran acknowledges that an improved lay-Jesuit partnership will bring about a better and much needed coordination among the different apostolic works of the province. [HL60503]