Year Joined MKLM: 2016
City: San Paulo
Focus: Communication, Prison Ministry, Restorative Justice
Project(s): Vozes da Migração, Pastoral Carcerária, Arsenal da Esperança
People Served: Imprisoned men and women, men experiencing homelessness, the Community-at-Large
Project Goal(s): To help people recognize God, the good, and the potential in themselves and in others, be they in a situation of homelessness, incarceration, or migration.
Marcelo’s MKLM ministry began with the Archdiocese of São Paulo’s Pastoral Carcerária (Prison Pastoral) formation (carceraria.org.br). Since April 2017, Marcelo has served as part of the team visiting the state of São Paulo’s Centro Hospitalar do Sistema Penitenciário (CHSP — Hospital Center of the Prison System) on a weekly basis. Men and women who are imprisoned throughout the state of São Paulo are transferred to this hospital center to undergo special and/or intensive treatment. There, Marcelo has met and gotten to know men receiving long-term treatment for illnesses including Hepatitis, HIV, and tuberculosis. Men requiring surgery or biopsies also pass through the CHSP. Among patients Marcelo has gotten to know, hernias have been remedied, amputations have been made, and tumors have been removed. The men Marcelo encounters at the CHSP are grateful for the support and accompaniment provided by the Pastoral Carcerária and its agents.
Through a community radio station in Brazil, Marcelo has pitched the idea of a program called Vozes da Migração (Voices of Migration). He presents interviews with immigrants and refugees, seeking to build bridges between them and other Brazilians via their stories and their music. He is currently seeking to develop a website to host a podcast format of the program and hopes to develop English-language content, as the program and interviews are conducted in Portuguese.
In late 2017, Marcelo co-facilitated a Foundations course at the penitentiary in Parelheiros, which is in the extreme south of the city. Focusing on growing more conscious of emotions and working to break out of a cycle of revenge and aggression, the course was well-received by the group of 20 men participating. It was fulfilling to see the transformation of thinking or at least the reconsideration of stances by the men. They were grateful for the opportunity to share and explore difficult topics in our small classroom, an island of calm and a safe space in a sea of noise and frustration that is prison.
Another of Marcelo’s ministries has been with the Arsenal da Esperança, the “Arsenal of Hope.” The Arsenal is a “house of refuge,” providing 1,200 men with a clean bed, a warm shower, hearty and balanced meals, laundry services, medical services, social assistance, and educational and professional development. Marcelo comes to the Arsenal every Wednesday to meet the staff and a group of men participating in the Floresta que Cresce (Forest That Grows) program.
Each week, a new group of about 15 men participates in the Floresta program, and Marcelo is uplifted to see the motivation and inspiration the program helps instill in the participants. Each week, he hears a new story of struggle, of a difficult upbringing, of decisions that led to darker places, and of thankfulness for having the opportunity to be at the Arsenal. The Arsenal provides some stability for men who are seeking to get back on their feet, a springboard from which they can take steps forward in their lives.
Marcelo was born and raised in Detroit, MI, and grew up playing soccer, trumpet, and sharing much quality time with family. After graduating from Fraser High School, he enrolled at Loyola University Chicago, where the foundations in Jesuit spirituality nurtured his sense of service and purpose. In 2009, Marcelo graduated from LUC with a BA in International Studies, and later that year began a year of service with Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest. He was placed in Juneau, Alaska, where he served as a Community and Prevention Advocate at AWARE (Aiding Women in Abuse and Rape Emergencies), co-facilitating a domestic violence accountability program in the community and in the local correctional center and providing support to violence prevention and healthy-living programming in two local high schools. There in Juneau, Marcelo was an active member of the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish, assisting the leading of the high school Youth Group and participating in Lenten and Music ministries.
Marcelo met his wife, Kathleen, in community during their JVCNW year. In the years following JVCNW and preceding entrance into MKLM, Marcelo worked as a youth and family mental health support worker in Greater Boston’s Metro West area, as a stay-at-home dad, as a rough carpenter, as a student assistance provider at a middle and high school, and as a volunteer firefighter in northern New Hampshire. He also volunteered as a grammar school soccer coach, junior ski program group leader, and played trumpet for holiday services at Our Lady of the Mountains parish in North Conway, NH. Marcelo and Kathleen started their family in the White Mountains, where Cecilia was born in 2013, and Maëlle was born in 2015.