Despite his slight hunchback attributed his old age, this 95-year-old priest named Friar Roberto was on foot for dozens of kilometers while hearing confessions during a recent “Penitential Walk" in Brazil.
More than 200,000 Catholic faithful walked the entire stretch of northeast Brazilian Archdioceses of Fortaleza and Salvador de Bahia, participating in the annual trek, which took place on Feb. 28 to atone for their sins and give thanks for the blessings they have received. Many of the participants performed penitential acts such as walking barefoot and carrying small crosses.
One of the participants of the walk, recounted how the aged Friar Roberto inspired them by taking part in the ‘Walk’ and trekking 3 miles while hearing confessions as a way to reflect on Christ’s Passion said, “It was one of most beautiful moments I saw today. That example of faith, love and fidelity for the things of God, which is what Friar Roberto showed us today, was a true proof of the presence of God in his heart. We’ve got to follow his example!"
The Capuchin Franciscan priest was born in 1920, in the city of Maracanaú (Ceará State). His baptismal name is Juari Magalhães de Sousa. He entered the monastery when he was 14, professed his First Vows many years later and was ordained to the priesthood in 1944. He has been a priest for 71 years.
According to one of the country’s leading churchman, Archbishop Gilson Andrade of Salvador de Bahia, reflecting on the meaning of the Penitential Walk he said, “It’s a gesture that we all make in common as the archdiocese in this time in which the Church remembers that her journey is also marked by our sins, the sins of the faithful." He said that one’s own walk must be accompanied by “prayer and the Cross".
“We pray together as a Church for others because we need to be freed from our sins with the grace of God and the prayers of our brothers and sisters. At the same time it represents a manifestation of our unity around our pastors," the archbishop added.