2013-12-22 GENERAL HOUSE

María Pilar Benavente Serrano

Sr María Pilar has taken on the role of facilitator of the Preparatory Commission of the II IMMA. She was present at the Commission meeting held in Nairobi, from 22 to 27  October 2013. She will continue attending the meetings of the Commission and will also take part in the II Marist International Mission Assembly in Nairobi. We are very happy with her work in support of the Preparatory Commission. Some information on the Sister follows. 

Br João Carlos do Prado


I belong to the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Africa (MSOLA), an International Missionary Congregation composed by 750 members of 35 nationalities. Our focus is mainly on the African peoples and on dialogue between Christianity and Islam. 

I have lived and worked for 2 years in Burkina Faso, 5 in Mauritania and 6 in Algeria. In Burkina Faso I worked in social development in a remote rural area where ancestral African religions and traditions were still remarkably alive. In the Islamic Republic of Mauritania, I worked in a government center for health protection of mothers and children. In Algeria, where I lived in a populated urban area, I worked with interreligious and ecumenical teams to promote encounter, collaboration and friendship between people of different beliefs. 

The golden thread in all this, the passion that has been in me all along these years has been the intercultural and interfaith living as anticipation and co-creation of what humanity can become and that in my Christian faith terms I call the Kingdom of God. Later on I became aware of the cosmic evolutionary process of which we are part. It has been a vertiginous realization of the sacred story we are part of, together with the rest of Creation. In my consciousness, time and space are extending ever more. Thus, my original passion has been challenged and enlarged.

It is exciting to live this moment of history when -contrary to what happened some years ago- disciplines like sciences,  spirituality, religion, arts, cosmology, see each other as complementary. The past self-sufficiency of, from one side, religion and, from the other, sciences seem to lessen in favor of a greater mutual interest and collaboration. This is true also regarding groups, nations. I see myself and the groups I work with as been part of this movement. 

For 12 years I was a member of the international leadership council of the MSOLA and for 6 years (until August 2011) I was the International Leader. For me, the most exciting and meaningful aspect of those years was to rethink our purpose as organization in a new global context: to move from an isolated way of thinking about Africa (as being out there, far away and basically different) to an interconnected one. In this process, we were led to rethink our own international organization as a global reality within a global context. 

I was president of SEDOS for three years. SEDOS is a forum open to Institutes of Consecrated Life which commit themselves to deepening their understanding of global mission. It was a free and creative space for theological reflection. 

As leader of my Congregation I have also had the opportunity to visit and know quite well 15 African countries in which our congregational members are living and working. Today I feel specially committed towards the various women religious congregations in Africa, without excluding the mens’ ones. They represent a huge potential for Africa and for the world while meeting many challenges (ex. poverty and injustice, tradition vs. globalization, various cercles of belonging…). To support the leaders of these congregations with an appropriate leadership training is something in line with both, the specific purpose of the MSOLA and one of the priorities of Faith and Praxis FCJ through which I currently do my facilitation and consultancy work as international associate. 

Regarding my training, I first studied music and then nursing. Besides theological training, I was given the opportunity to explore in depth dialogue with Islam at the Pontifical Institute of Islamic and Arabic Studies in Rome. At this moment I am preparing a Diploma on Organizational Analysis with the Grubb Institute. 


Fondazione Marista per la Solidarietà Intern...


Marist Europe...