The spouses built the first chapel at the Nova Olinda station in 1992, and the apostolic administrator of the diocese gave them permission to have the Blessed Sacrament.
Every time a new chapel is built, “the first thing we do is go to the parish priest, who asks the bishop for permission to have the Blessed Sacrament,” she said.
Later on, they built other chapels in Aparecida de Goiânia, Goiás state; Belém and Santana do Araguaia, Pará state; Frutal and Centralina, Minas Gerais state; and Várzea Grande in Mato Grosso state.
They all offer Mass every week and, at some of the chapels, a priest meets with the faithful to hear their confessions, give them spiritual advice, and pray with them.
The Rede Marajó company director said that building these chapels over the last 30 years is “a grace” and the work of the Holy Spirit, because although it’s easy to start, persevering in the effort is not so simple.
Her children, who now run the gas station chain, are continuing with the project.
“They, much more than me, want these chapels and for people to pray there. It was something we instilled and it remained in their hearts,” she said.
An oasis for truckers and travelers
Vaz explained that the idea of building chapels came from thinking about truck drivers, who spend a lot of time on the roads, and said that the chapels are dedicated to Our Lady under her different Marian titles.
The businesswoman said that the priests who go to celebrate Mass at the stations give rosaries to the truck drivers and that they receive them “happily,” because “they love the Virgin” and feel her care for them.
Two truckers saved from suicide thanks to the chapels
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“It feels like an oasis in the middle of the desert for them. This oasis has already saved at least two truckers from suicide,” she recounted.
The first truck driver arrived at the Nova Olinda station at night “very desperate” and “with a gun” because he “wanted to take his own life.”
When he saw him, the night watchman took him to the chapel of Our Lady of Graces and he stayed there for a while.
“When he left he was completely different and he no longer had the intention of committing suicide, and he said that he was even going to get rid of the weapon,” she recalled.
The other case occurred recently at the Belém station, in the chapel of Our Lady of Nazareth, when a truck driver who visited the chapel met a priest and decided not to commit suicide.
Vaz recounted that on that day the visiting priest “thought the sanctuary lamp next to the tabernacle had gone out,” so he went into the chapel to light it and saw a man crying.