Name: Prinz Jeremy Dela Cruz
Location of Study: Brazil
Program of Study: Portuguese
Sponsor(s): Robert Berner
Dela Cruz, Prinz Jeremy
Name: Prinz Jeremy Dela Cruz
It’s that characteristic nasal bounciness. That animated affrication which renders certain phonemes simply amusing to pronounce. That abundance of closed vowels (â, ê, ô) which caps the vocabulary of its Brazilian variant like the wide-brimmed hats of the gaúchos of Rio Grande do Sul. That sunny warmth and passion embodied by Brasileiros. That new cache of conjugations waiting to be mastered.
Maybe it’s all these signature characteristics and then some which attracted me to study Portuguese in the first place. Regardless of the one trait that drew me to the mother tongue of over 178 million people, I agree with author Pedro Teixeira Neves who says that “Language is a continual voyage through oceans never before seen or sailed.” It still amazes me to think about how languages have developed, how we have assigned specific meanings to specific sounds thereby creating words. Fortunately, I’ll have the opportunity to take my musings further and experience Portuguese firsthand over the summer.
Thanks to the CSLC and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, I am set to study Portuguese in Brazil. Over a span of 56 days, I will have the good fortune to share in the daily life of the Holy Cross Brothers, who have graciously welcomed me to study and live at Colégio Notre Dame de Campinas, as well as help with Campus Ministry, volunteer at Centro Comunitário Irmão André, and participate in World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. It goes without saying that summer 2013 will be rather eventful.
Through the supportive generosity of the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, I was able to travel to France in January for the first (and hopefully not last) time, enabling me to finally make extensive use of my 6 years of French. My subsequent sojourn to London also awakened in me a thirst for travel. For a kid from Stockton, a city where opportunities for international excursions are few and far between, the chance to have just a small taste of Europe helped me understand the importance of dreaming big and striving for those grands rêves. According to St. Augustine, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” There’s so much more to ponder and muse out there, beyond our hometowns, the veritable prefaces to our lifelong adventure autobiographies that they are.
I hope that my time in Brazil will bear many fruits. By the end of the summer, I would like to be able to garner a greater grasp of verb conjugations and a wider expansion of vocabulary words. I will work towards a strong command of liturgical Portuguese and an ability to express my ideas and opinions about current events or topics in a fluid manner. I recognize that fluency is not a terminal goal but a normative one. I have no naïve notions that I will somehow be an advanced Lusophone after a mere eight weeks in Brazil, but I will certainly attempt to be one in the future.
Aside from improvements to my Portuguese, I want my experiences in Brazil to help me enhance my religious discernment. Last summer at the annual seminarian gathering at LaPorte, the Provincial Superior of the Congregation of Holy Cross in the United States Province, Rev. Thomas J. O’Hara, C.S.C., encouraged us to take advantage of study abroad opportunities and cultural exchanges as a way to understand the internationality of Holy Cross. Holy Cross maintains an active presence in 16 countries on five continents. The Congregation is therefore more than the University of Notre Dame or its U.S. apostolates. In order to understand Holy Cross better, I have taken it upon myself to explore the different experiences of its religious priests and brothers from other countries. By sharing in their life and work, I will come to a greater appreciation for the mission and spirit of this community of educators in the faith.
In my program rationale, I explained that language study abroad complements my vocation in Holy Cross because both facilitate my intellectual growth as a global citizen as well as raise my awareness of the problems facing other areas of the world, allowing the mind to not be cultivated at the expense of the heart. My desire to develop myself as a global citizen is best described by the Brazilian proverb “Cada um sabe onde o sapato aperta,” which translates to “Only the wearer knows where the shoe pinches.” Holy Cross religious pride themselves in being men with hope to bring, the hope of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection expressed by his cross. How can I strive to be such a man if I’m never open to sharing or witnessing the struggles of different people? Every person carries a cross and it’s a grace whenever we can bear the burden together, like with Simon of Cyrene and Jesus on the road to Calvary. Helping with the work of the Holy Cross Brothers and the dedicated laity who operate the Centro Comunitário Irmão André, an institution which serves local youth, will therefore be a vital part of my Brazilian journey.
I am definitely willing to throw myself into my studies and service work in Brazil. It won’t just be an extended linguistic fieldtrip but will also double as a quest to find myself. As cliché as that sounds, I think the concept of “finding oneself” resonates with many of us who are currently at or will be departing for our respective summer placements. Whether you’re doing an internship in a foreign country, serving at an ISSLP or SSLP site, or taking a summer job at home, we’re all trying to gain new experiences and figure ourselves out in a way. We might expect that the people we meet or what we do over the next couple of months will help us discover new things about ourselves. And that curiosity is what motivates me this summer, pushing me to take that step this afternoon on board that American Airlines flight to Brazil.
“A sorte protege os audazes.”
“Luck protects the daring ones.”
Segunda Semana Update
I stood there amidst the crowd of students and their families, gazing at the luminous bursts of noise exploding across the night sky. Each thunderous clap of color was greeted by the cheer and approval of an audience indifferent to the gentle spritz of rain which had periodically showered the day. As the pyrotechnic display ended with a figurative and literal bang, Festa Junina had come to an end and so had my first week in Brazil.
Like the fireworks which had punctuated the evening, my introduction to the vida brasileira has certainly been a dazzling spectacle of sights, sounds, and smells. I have tried to embrace the customs and cuisine which I’ve encountered, an approach that will hopefully bear much fruit in terms of language acquisition.
After landing in Rio de Janeiro’s Galeão International Airport, I was faced with my first linguistic challenge: navigating through busy terminals in an attempt to make it to my connecting flight. A fleeting reminder of home in the form of an American family waiting by one of the bathrooms was a good first sign; the fact that the dad was wearing a sweater with “Indiana” emblazoned on it was an even better one since he noticed my Notre Dame gear and was quick to point me in the right direction of baggage claim. After successfully locating my luggage, I entered the milling crowds of travelers. I stumbled through my conjugated phrases at first, trying to keep as quiet as possible and even resorting to “Não falo português” when I was asked questions by passersby. Finally, however, I realized that if I was ever going to make it out of this airport, I would have to do the seemingly impossible: communicate in Portuguese. So I took a deep breath, fumbled with my airline itinerary, and turned around to speak with the group of young women standing behind me. As if by a miracle, a flood of fluid Portuguese began to flow from my timid mouth, all thanks to Sra. Sandra Teixeira’s Intensive Beginning course last semester. Sure, my sentences were void of advanced vocabulary and were held together by a rusty sense of grammar, but they worked: they were logical and connected thoughts, enabling me to relay my need for help to the surprised ladies, who were bewildered that an American was speaking to them with sentences longer than “Bom dia” or “Obrigado!” And with that, the young women introduced me to this amazing brand of Brazilian hospitality characterized by an unassuming generosity and a willingness to help strangers. After a long 10 hour wait for my connecting flight to Campinas, I reached my final destination.
Of course, the excitement wasn’t over since the airline had accidentally misplaced my checked bag (which seems to be a cross-cultural aspect of air travel). Luckily for me, Bro. Nilto Oliveira, C.S.C., the Superior of the District of Brazil, warmly welcomed me into the city with a handshake and a grin and was able to help me on my side-quest to retrieve the bag, which was now wrapped in a cocoon of plastic since one corner was sporting a tattered hole. We left the airport and drove to Colégio Notre Dame, where a warm meal of arroz e feijão (rice and beans) and a comfy bed at the District Center awaited me.
The next day, Bro. Nilto welcomed Fr. Joe Moyer, C.S.C., Br. Michael Windslow, C.S.C., and Héctor Garza, an art teacher at Holy Cross High School in Texas, to the District Center. The Holy Cross trio were touring several Brazilian apostolates and spent a couple of days in Campinas. It was nice to spend time with American Holy Cross religious while in Brazil; Fr. Joe was from the U.S. Province and Br. Michael hailed from the Moreau Province. They both were curious about my studies at Notre Dame and my formation at Old College. Héctor was commissioned to paint a mural for Centro Comunitário Ir. André (CECOIA), a charitable institution sponsored by the Congregation to serve the needs of local impoverished youth.
During our tour of CND, CECOIA and the cathedral, Bro. Nilto invited me to be the group’s translator, reasoning that such a role would provide me with good Portuguese practice. Naturally I was scared at first, but managed to relate the main ideas of the Portuguese portions of the tour. I understood about 80% of what was being said and so grew accustomed to my newfound translating service.
Fueled by a linguistic optimism, I decided to start my immersion program during the same week and began attending classes with the students of terceiro ano, which are the Brazilian equivalents of high school seniors. Clad in a sporty Catholic school uniform, I walked into my first class, where I hoped to use the introduction which I had been practicing for weeks (i.e. “Eu sou Jeremy Dela Cruz. Eu sou dos Estados Unidos …”) Originally, I was supposed to meet two school administrators who had wanted to introduce me to the students and explain why I was here but I had forgotten where to find them in the morning. Not wanting to be late for class, I strolled into Sala 16 and tripped over my broken Portuguese, confusing the professor and causing him to give me an unflattering introduction to the class, one which made me out to be an American student who didn’t speak the language and who is from some sort of university named “Notre Dame” as well. So much for a good first impression.
There I was, a rising junior at ND and a third-year seminarian to boast, a guy who had toughed out high school already and was a year or two older than everyone in the room (except for the teacher), but I still was shy and nervous sitting there in class. I guess the new student mentality never really leaves you. I had been a new student before, but never one in a foreign country. Yep, these past two weeks have definitely been a second helping of high school and I’ve developed a new respect for the international students I’ve met in the past and those I will meet in the future. It’s definitely difficult to be in a different environment where the primary language is not your own. The first day was a bit rocky to say the least but the other students were definitely welcoming, brimming with questions about life in the U.S. and excited to be able to practice their English (on a limited basis since I reminded them that I’m here to study Portuguese). I also was asked to participate in a synchronized dance at the Festa Junina, an experience which turned out pretty well but more on that later.
At CND, the high school students do not have to walk to different rooms for classes and so remain in a sort of perpetual homeroom, where everyone gets to know each other. Although I normally have a healthy disdain for science and math, I’m surprised that one of my favorite classes has been chemistry. It’s probably because the equations and numbers translate perfectly into any language and so I’m able to follow along pretty well. I have found the students here to be very intelligent and relaxed, a blend of Catholic school rigor and Brazilian playfulness. CND has a beautiful campus and is one of the elite schools in Campinas, making it a jewel in the Holy Cross legacy of educational excellence.
In addition to the immersion program at CND, I’m also being taught by tutors from Interclass, a language school founded by Pierre Coudry, an American who mastered the Portuguese language and speaks it like a native I’m told. I’m looking forward to meeting Pierre in person since I’ve only heard of him spoken in third-person, rendering him as a sort of mysterious linguistic mastermind. (Yeah, I like to engage in some exaggerated thoughts during Portuguese class…) To supplement my learning experience, I’m hoping to receive instruction from Bro. Dimas Lenzi, C.S.C., a Portuguese language professor at a local public school as well.
It’s definitely an honor and a pleasure to be able to study Portuguese at CND. I’m attempting to immerse myself in Portuguese on a daily basis through conversations, TV shows, the Divine Office, Mass, and community events. In other words, I have plenty of fodder for future blog posts. Stay tuned!
Bl. Basile Moreau hoped that his Holy Cross religious family would “grow like a mighty tree and constantly shoot forth new limbs and new branches which will be nourished by the same sap and endowed with the same life.” Today, in addition to serving in 16 countries, the Congregation’s priests, brothers and sisters have labored in the Lord’s vineyard, reaping a harvest of excellent schools and universities. There exists a unique quality in Holy Cross education, one inspired and influenced by Fr. Moreau’s desire to cultivate the hearts and minds of students. Such a holistic approach has given rise to the academic curiosity and civic zeal exhibited by many young men and women who have had the opportunity to be formed at Holy Cross institutions. I was able to see this reality firsthand after I spent a week with a group of rising seniors from a Californian high school during their trip to Brazil.
Every year, Colégio Notre Dame hosts a group of American students from St. Francis High School (Mountain View, CA) as a part of its SISCA program. My study program at CND happened to coincide with SFHS’s annual trip and so I was able to join them in participating in the 7th edition of the Brazilian immersion program. Through CND’s Campus Ministry team, I helped serve as an interpreter for the students during their different activities in Campinas.
Throughout their stay, the students helped with the CND Recycling Project and collected supplies for a food drive for CECOIA. Being Northern Californians, we hail from a state with a strong Green Movement; environmentalism is in our actions as much as “hella” is in our speech. The SFHS students made posters for Festa Junina as well as manned the recycling booth at the festival, organizing games and activities for young kids. During the week, they also handed out fliers, helped bag groceries, and received donations for CECOIA at local supermarkets. (To add to the notion that the University of Notre Dame is indeed universal, there was a shopper at Galassi supermarket who was sporting an ND polo. When I asked him about it, he replied that his brother went to ND as an engineering major, meaning that even in a random grocery store in Brazil, one can still find traces of the Fighting Irish legacy. But I digress…)
The SISCA program also encouraged us to integrate ourselves into the local community. CND provided cultural presentations on Brazilian music and dance, exposing us to the wonders of samba and capoeira. We volunteered with the kids at CECOIA by playing games and futebol de rua (street soccer). The Brazilian students enjoyed hosting the St. Francis seniors, teaching them basic Portuguese phrases throughout the week. The SFHS students in turn would help the CND students with English. After a delicious churrasco (think Brazilian BBQ cookout) and an evening of sports, SISCA 2013 concluded on a fun note. (Although we were crushed in futebol by the Brazilians 3-1, we took revenge in basketball. I’m still convinced that the brasileiro soccer secret is their samba-honed motor skills.)
As a member of the upcoming Fall Transfer Orientation Committee, I would have been remiss to not promote ND to the St. Francis guys and girls. That’s the beauty of the Holy Cross tradition: it doesn’t just stop at parish elementary schools or even high schools. There’s a larger Holy Cross network of higher education dominated by figures like ND, the University of Portland, and St. Edward’s University just to name a few of the institutions which span the globe. It’s amazing to think that one saintly man’s 19th century pedagogic philosophy has impacted the world to such a great extent, being the bridge which crosses cultural, linguistic, and geographic divisions. Whether it be a California high school (St. Francis), a Brazilian colégio (CND), or a Midwestern university dedicated to Our Lady (ND), each Holy Cross institution has the common mission to serve God and neighbor with a love strengthened by zeal, faith, and community.
Within a week, I really grew to see the St. Francis seniors as my academic younger siblings. I know that even if they don’t end up at ND or at another Holy Cross university, I can rest easy because their hearts and minds have already been formed, have already been touched, and have already been inspired by the Congregation’s educators in the faith, both lay and religious.
“A nossa missão leva-nos a cruzar todo tipo de fronteiras. Teremos, não raro, de adaptar-nos a mais de um povo ou cultura, lembrando-se de quanto mais tenhamos a dar mais teremos de receber.” (Constituição C.S.C. 2, 17)
“Our mission sends us across borders of every sort. Often we must make ourselves at home among more than one people or culture, reminding us again that the farther we go in giving the more we stand to receive.” (C.S.C. Constitution 2:17)
Two Sundays ago, I had the opportunity to visit the weekly downtown Feira de Artesanato (Artisan Fair). Armed with souvenir money and a mean streak of impulse shopping, I was no match for the wacky wares of the different vendors. Of course, I wasn’t looking for tacky t-shirts or novelty goods. I was looking for religious figurines.
The Feira de Artesanato is a weekly flea market boasting merchants selling clothing, toys, jewelry, and for the more adventurous, marijuana pipes. The shops are located at the Centro de Convivência, a spacious plaza featuring a central arena. The arena has been shutdown due to structural problems and I’m told that it’s been used by drug dealers in the past. That’s a shame since it looks amazing and would be a great place for outdoor concerts.
While the rest of the group dispersed into the various booths, I paced myself at first, spotting several vendors who sold saint statues. One tent manned by a husband-and-wife duo caught my attention with their handcrafted creations. For a seminarian abroad with reais in his pocket, I was enjoying every minute of my careful examination of each figurine, asking about St. So-and-So and whether they had St. Such-and-Such. Eyeing a potential customer, the wife recommended five Brazilian statues.
She first drew my attention to a figurine of Nossa Senhora da Conceição Aparecida (Our Lady of the Appeared Conception). Nossa Senhora Aparecida is the most popular Marian image in Brazil. The original statue of Our Lady of Aparecida is housed in the Basílica do Santuário Nacional de Nossa Senhora Aparecida. The story of the image begins in 1717 on the October visit of Dom Pedro de Almeida, Count of Assumar and governor of São Paulo and Minas Gerais, to the vicinity of the small city of Guaratinguetá. The local community decided to organize a feast for the visiting politician and so three fishermen were assigned to go fish at the Rio Paraíba. Having not had a successful catch in a while, Domingos Garcia, João Alves, and Filipe Pedroso prayed for the intercession of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. After lifting their nets from the water, the three men found a clay statue of the Virgin Mary tangled in the ropes and proceeded to catch many fish afterwards.
The interesting aspect of the image of Nossa Senhora Aparecida is that it is a black version of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. The mixture of indigenous cultures and European ethnic groups has maintained the popularity of Nossa Senhora Aparecida for veneration since it depicts the oft-portrayed fair-skinned Mary with a natural look common to the area. Devotion to Nossa Senhora Aparecida grew over the centuries, prompting the Church to construct a grand basilica in honor of Mary. Today, pilgrims visit the city of Aparecida to honor the Blessed Virgin and hopefully receive a miracle. In 1930, Pope Pius XI declared Nossa Senhora Aparecida as the “Queen and Principal Patroness of Brazil.” The Feast of Nossa Senhora Aparecida (October 12) is celebrated as a national holiday.
The saleswoman then brought me the statue of Santo Antônio de Sant’Anna Galvão, more commonly referred to as Frei Galvão. Frei Galvão was a Franciscan friar canonized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007, making the humble religious the first recognized Brazilian-born saint. Frei Galvão abandoned his family’s wealth and social status to join the St. Bonaventure Friary in Rio de Janeiro. He served as a novice master and established a Recollect foundation for young girls.Through the grace of God, Frei Galvão is reported to have performed miracles such as healing and bilocation. As one story goes, a woman went to the friar to ask for help with a medical condition. Frei Galvão gave her a piece of paper rolled into a pill on which he wrote a phrase from the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin: “After childbirth thou didst remain a Virgin: O Mother of God, intercede for us.” The woman consumed the pill and was healed. Today, the Recollect sisters continue to give out the miraculous pills to those in need.
The third saint I learned about was the Italian-born St. Paulina. Madre Paulina helped found the Congregation of the Little Sisters of the Immaculate Conception and served the the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina.
The fourth and fifth figurines were the rotund and somewhat comical statue of Frei Damião de Bozzano and the prim and grim image of Padre Cícero. Both men served in the Northeast of Brazil and are widely revered in that region. Frei Damião was a zealous missionary who gave powerful homilies and brought the sacraments to the poor. He is venerated by the Church as a Servant of God.
Padre Cícero also worked with the poor and considered it his life mission to help advance the lives of the families in his care. His story, however, is a tad bit more colorful than the others. I was surprised to find that Padre Cícero is not officially recognized as a saint by the Church; he has actually only been “canonized” by a dissident denomination. In reality, Padim Ciço, as he is lovingly invoked by Northeasterners, was excommunicated by the Church in 1917 for, as I understand, disobedience and other offenses. Facing the controversy of a supposed Eucharistic miracle, the bishop of the diocese suspended Padre Cícero’s public ministry after a commission filed a report doubting the veracity of the latter’s miracle. The stubborn priest, however, continued to celebrate the sacraments and even ran for political office. To his credit, Padre Cícero never stopped trying to reverse his excommunication and there seems to be a debate as to whether it was properly imposed. Fortunately, in 2001, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger paved the way for the ongoing rehabilitation of Padre Cícero headed by Dom Fernando Panico, bishop of Crato.
Needless to say, I purchased all of the Brazilian figurines, in addition to seven others. Yes, it was a bit of a spiritual shopping spree but I feel it was worth it (and I even made off with a seminarian discount). Each particular saint (or as in the case of Padre Cícero, maybe-saints) has his own unique story and displayed heroic virtues which should inspire us to serve God. By getting to know some santos brasileiros, I’m continuing to explore the religious dimension of Brazil. When I told my Portuguese tutor about my recent acquisitions, she taught me that I should not refer to them as “estátuas religiosas” but as “imagens religiosas,” since “statue” has a connotation of idolatry about it. “Images” are representations of the external and so one can think of saints as reflections of divine love.