There is something special to go to daily mass at the church where I became a son of God, the Igreja Matriz de Santo André. And not only I, but so many in my family as well. As far as I remember, in this church my mother received First Communion, married my Dad, baptized my siblings and I. It is the church where I received First Communion and Confirmation and my son was baptized; where I came to so many times to receive the balsam of Reconciliation and to be nurtured with the Body and Blood of Our Lord.
I recall many events in my family which were celebrated there: baptisms, weddings, funerals; when many relatives came to Christ, were united in one sacramental flesh and bid farewell to their true home. As a wee lad, I would just sit there admiring the artwork, including the statuary, the stained glass windows, the frescoes, the side altars. I can truly say that I was first catechized through its art, which is etched in my memory to this day.
When I was a learning photography, this church was one of my first subjects. I perfected photography of stained glass windows in it.
As a young teenager, I and other boys would go to the church for instruction with a young Carlist priest from Italy who dedicated himself to catechesis. Everyone loved him and were grateful for bringing so many youth to practice the faith. He once granted us a special treat: climbing up the stairs of the bell tower into the clock mechanism and then to the campanile, right before the bells tolled the eleventh hour.
It was also in this church that I got enthusiastic for the faith for the first time. I went to morning Sunday mass expecting also to meet friends and school colleagues. It was one dear friend of mine from school who quenched my yearning to sing to the Lord, frowning at my horrible lack of musical talent, something that only recently have I been able to overcome, though I still lack any talent.
Years later I used to meet my maternal grandmother at the vigil mass. She was my godmother too and had a special love for me and I, for her; to the chagrin of my cousins, I was her favorite. She was filled with joy to meet me there, perhaps the only other family member practicing the faith. Sometimes I would be “volunteered” as a lector and she would be filled with “holy pride”. I have no doubt that I owe my faith to her prayers. May she continue to intercede for me before the Lord’s face.
As a young adult, I came to know St. Augustine through his “Confessions” and I identified myself with his conversion story, inspiring to seek t sacrament of Confirmation, when I returned to this church for the preparatory classes. After a few months I was anointed with the fullness of the Holy Spirit by D. Cláudio Hummes and took the same St. Augustine as my patron saint.
However, my adult life took place at increasing distances from my mother parish. Yet, whenever I come to visit my parents, who still live just a few blocks away from it, I answer the call of its bells everyday to celebrate the Sacraments and to enjoy this sacred place where I came to know God, and His Church, where my family on earth met my family in heaven.
The church building is now 55 years old, but the parish was erected over 100 years ago. This short video was produced for the celebration of its centenary in 2011.