In the summer of 2017, God called me to Fortaleza, Brazil to experience Halleluya with Shalom Catholic Community. The opportunity to go to Brazil with the Community was providence. While speaking on the phone with my close friend Billy Beauchesne he mentioned the trip to Brazil he was going on. Unfortunately, the person he was going to be traveling with decided not to go.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit I spoke up and invited myself on the trip. Filled with great excitement we spoke about our new plans to travel to Brazil together with the Shalom Catholic Community.
The opportunity to travel to Brazil came at the perfect time because I planned to take the summer off from work before entering the seminary. This trip could not have worked out more perfectly. It was truly providence and I thanked God for the opportunity to go to Brazil. Before my trip to Brazil I had no real knowledge or experience with Shalom Catholic Community; however, Billy constantly spoke highly of the community. I knew this would be an amazing experience. It turns out that “amazing” was an understatement. Little did Billy and I know we
Once the time came to travel to Fortaleza, Brazil I was a little nervous because this was my first time flying internationally. When we landed in Brazil we met Higor Fontoura from the Shalom Community in Cambridge, MA. Being originally from Fortaleza, Brazil it was his family who took us in and welcomed us to Brazil. When we first met the Fontoura family we felt right at home. Being many miles from home was difficult, but the Fontoura family made it feel like we were visiting with an extended Brazilian family. It made traveling to an unfamiliar place more familiar.
It was not long before I was completely comfortable in this new environment. After meeting the Fontoura family we went to visit the Community in Fortaleza.
It did not take long before I sensed the love of Jesus Christ emanating from everyone I encountered. Finally, I understood why Billy spoke so highly of this community. Awe-inspired by the great love of this community my heart was moved to feel great peace. I was looking forward to the rest of the trip.
Ultimately, it came time for the Halleluya Festival. Thousands upon thousands of people came for the event. It was free for everyone, which is a blessing for those who are less fortunate and do not have the means to afford tickets to a festival. As we entered we saw an incredible sight. People from all over Brazil were here in this one place to joyfully worship Jesus Christ. It was a beautiful sight to behold.
The Halleluya Festival was a place of great love. Everyone we met was excited to meet us. Billy and I were the first Americans to be at Halleluya. Once the Holy Mass began I saw the reverence and love for Jesus Christ in the participation of the faithful, many people had their arms outstretched reaching for Jesus. When it came time for Adoration there was peaceful reverence for the Eucharistic presence of Jesus Christ. He was certainly smiling upon us that night.
It was amazing to me just how many people were at Halleluya. Not only was I amazed as to how many people there were, but how organized it was. It was obvious to me that this was not the first time. My favorite area at the festival was the place of Mercy. Half of the concert was dedicated to confessions, spiritual direction, and adoration. This was a place were people would come to feel the great love and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was impressive to me how everything at the Halleluya Festival pointed to Jesus Christ. Even the areas of the festival that were dedicated to video games, dancing, and skateboarding had intermissions were one of the members of the community would pray for those in attendance. It helped me to remember why we were at this festival; it was all for the greatest glory of God the Father.
Once I returned from Brazil I was reinvigorated and inspired to do better at incorporating Christ into every moment of my day. This is exactly how the Shalom community functions. Whether it be a festival, visiting with family or friends, hanging out with the kids at the orphanage, going to Beach Park; every single moment must be dedicated to Jesus Christ. The festival was an experience I will never forget and will take with me throughout my ministry.