“Beauty will save the world” – Priest in Brazil – Sustained by SMA prayers.

“Beauty will save the world.”

– Dostoyevsky. 

‘Beauty will save the world’ – Fr Pat Clarke CSSp, walks in Villa Prudente

In the loft of his modest apartment in Sao Paulo is the prayer room of Irish Missionary, Fr Patrick Clarke CSSp. I joined him there for Eucharist just before my return to Ireland on 18 December 2016. I was delighted to see on a small shelf beside his low altar an SMA Mass Card, sent by friends in Ireland, a prayer gift which he treasures.

Fr Clarke is a Holy Ghost Missionary who understands the importance of the sustaining power of prayer. He has immense respect for the Society of African Missions and, consequently, when he received the SMA Mass Card, it was a reminder to him that as well as being the beneficiary of SMA prayers for the success of his work in South America, he too should remember in his daily prayers, the work of SMA missionaries in Africa.

I have known Fr Clark for more than half my life. His unwavering faith and

Our Lady of Guadalupe Chapel, Atlantic Rain Forest

commitment to justice and the world’s poorest people are inspiring. It is a faith and commitment that is evident in the many SMA and OLA missionaries I have had the privilege of knowing over the decades, amongst them, Fr. Anthony Gill SMA, Fr. Sean Healy SMA and Sr. Majella McCarron OLA.

Fr Clarke and I had lost touch for a number of years but reconnected briefly in 2014 at the funeral of a Kiltegan missionary from Tipperary. Later that year we had a ‘chance’ encounter in a very wet gloomy Knock, just as I was leaving and Fr Pat was arriving. We both found shelter in a nearby café and a sharing ensued that was, literally, an immense gift and blessing from Our Lady of Knock.

Our Lady of Guadalupe mosaic created in Villa Prudente

Fr Pat told me about an extraordinary project he was developing in the favelas of Sao Paulo and in the remnants of the Atlantic Rain Forest, a two hour drive from the great metropolis. A centrepiece was the building of a chapel to Our Lady of Guadalupe and he asked me to join him for the opening on 12 December 2016.

Based on conversations with Fr Pat, a reflection I wrote about my visit to Brazil was published in the Irish Independent’s review section on Saturday 18 February 2017. In it the Irish missionary recalls the power of prayer and faith across four decades, in transforming despondency into a dynamic culture of hope and systemic change.

It’s a story about a ‘City of Angels’, a space bought through Irish generosity, whereby the children and

Fr Pat with the children of the favela, visiting the City of Angels.

people of the favelas where Fr Pat works are becoming protectors of the Atlantic Rain Forest, inspired by Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical, ‘Laudato Si’.

It is yet another example of the extraordinary Ambassadors of Humanity our missionaries have been to Asia, Africa, Latin America and throughout the entire world.   

The article, entitled ‘Fly on the Wall’ who stayed 40 years to bring hope to the favelas’ may be accessed by clicking here:

Don Mullan

SMA Communications Office



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