The Shalom Catholic Community is carrying out an indirect missionary work. They are present in many countries, like Italy, France, Switzerland, Israel, Canada, Great Britain, Uruguay, Algeria, Madagascar, French Guyana, Portugal and Hungary.
Generally a Community Centre is opened in the form of an attractive coffee- shop or a snack bar that soon comes very popular amongst the youth. Foods are named in a unique way, ensuring a great opportunity to initiate a chat between the missionary staff members and the guests.
In general very open dialogues are developing, being extremely important for many, since it is likely filling a void in their life. These coffee shops all around the world provide separate private rooms for both group discussions and prayers. Even a Chapel is available for worshippers. In the Community Centres fine art, music and dance are placed at the service of evangelisation.
The first coffee
In 1982 the then 22 years old university student, Moysés Azevedo opened a coffee shop. Snacks and drinks got biblical names, serving as a great opportunity to start chatting with the young guests and to talk about the “story of the snacks”. There were two defining events in Azavedo’s life that inspired this unique idea.
“I do not want to go to church…”
Moysés Azevedo was born in Fortaleza, Brazil in 1959 as the sixth child of a catholic family. His mother had always wanted to have a son whom she could consecrate to God. Instead, she had five daughters, but did not stop praying for a son, when at the age of 45, she finally became pregnant with Moysés. But the boy at his age of 12-13, stated of not wanting to go to church anymore. “I thought the Mass was so much bureaucratic and boring, just like a museum.” The turning point that has changed his life arrived by a young girl, Theresa. She insisted him to participate in a spiritual retreat organised for the youth. There, first in his life, at the age of 16, he had a strong experience of being loved by God.
Give a gift to the Holy Father!
“That spiritual event has changed my entire life. It was a crucial experience” – said Moysés. It was June 30, 1980 when Pope John Paul II. first paid a visit to Brazil, namely to Fortaleza, to participate the National Eucharistic Congress. The 20 years-old Moysés was asked by the Archbishop of the Fortaleza Archdiocese to represent the youth of the city and to hand over a gift on their behalf to the Holy Father. Moreover he was
even entrusted to choose the gift itself to be given to the Pontiff: thus as a gift, he decided to offer his entire life to evangelize the youth. He wanted to freely give what he had freely received. Actually this was done on the 9 th of July, 1980 at the feet of Pope John Paul II. The young Moysés had received the Pontiff’s blessing, and exactly 2 years later he could inaugurate the “foundation stone” of the community.
Peace and joy
“Shalom” is a Hebrew word meaning peace, and this is how Azavedo’s coffee-shop and snack-bar has been named. “The coffee shop can be the first step to evangelization” – said Daniel Porto, the Shalom Community’s missionary, delegated to Hungary.
“We have young people in the Community who first just jumped
in for a coffee, and today they are members of our prayer group.”
- he added. Goes without saying that in good atmosphere the joyful news are spreading willingly-unwillingly.
Invitation to Hungary.
The Community has been steadily expanding since 1982. In 2007 the Shalom Catholic Community’s Pontifical Recognition was decreed by the Holy See, followed by the definite approval of its Statutes, as a private international faithful association. During the very same year Moysés has got acquainted in Brazil with Cardinal Péter Erdő, who was very much touched by the spirit of the Community and invited them to set up a mission also in Hungary. “We have always had the desire and the feeling that wherever the Church assigns us, we definitely go there. The very same has happened with Hungary as well.” Another invitation, having been recently sent by Cardinal Erdő, enables us to see Moysés Azevedo as a guest speaker of the International Eucharistic Congress to be held next September in Budapest.