Not everyone was expected to be impacted by the Pope’s visit to Brazil last summer, however since Benedict XVI visited Fazenda da Esperança, a drug rehabilitation center, hundreds have been inspired to seek treatment and to strive to find happiness in Christ.
ACN reports the story of one 23 year old woman, Maria de Campo who was an addict and worked occasionally as a prostitute. She relates how at first she had no interest in meeting the Pope. Describing herself as an “unbeliever,” she had previously told her friends on the Fazenda, “I don’t listen to the Church. I am here to get myself off drugs, not to see someone you call the ‘Pope.’”
She ended up attending the Pope’s visit and found herself standing in the front row. The Pope took her hand and blessed this young woman. She tells ACN: “He looked me straight in the eyes, and it was as though he could see everything in me. I’ve never experienced anything like this before.” She broke into tears. “This meeting converted me. I had the feeling that God was reflected in him. I cannot explain it, but since then everything has changed.”
Since his visit, hundreds have visited the Fazenda drug rehabilitation center as well as the community church which is the first church dedicated to St. Antonio Galvao.
In his letter to Austrian Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “In Brazil, in the Fazenda da Esperança, in a way that I will never forget I encountered young people who had fallen victim to drugs and had therefore lost their joy in life and their faith in the future. Discovering God meant for them – so they told me – finding hope again and once more gaining joy in life and in the future. Precisely because faith has deep roots, it can unlock the future and bestow life.”
There are currently Fazendas throughout South America, Philippines, and Germany.