Flávio Jose Rocha

Year Joined MKLM: 2003
Country: Brazil
City: João Pessoa
Focus: Justice and peace, health, sustainable development
Project(s): Theater of the oppressed, alternative health (reiki and acupuncture), water privatization research
People Served: Marginalized communities and people interested in water conflicts

Project Goal(s):
Alternative Health: Mutirão and Tibiri communities – Provide access to ear acupuncture, reiki and chromo therapy

Migrant Pastoral Service: The Migrant Pastoral Service has a project with youth in the Mutirão community. Its agents visit schools and facilitate different workshops focusing on peace and justice such as restorative justice. Flavio facilitates Theater of the Oppressed workshops in these schools as a way to help young people deal with violence in the community.

Water Privatization – Research on water privatization and water pollution in Brazil. This ministry is inspired by Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical Laudato Si´, especially the passage that says, “Even as the quality of available water is constantly diminishing, in some places there is a growing tendency, despite its scarcity, to privatize this resource, turning it into a commodity subject to the laws of the market.” (#30).

Twelve years ago Flávio joined many church groups in a campaign against the diversion of the São Francisco River, the most important water source in the northeast of Brazil. This diversion project led to a hunger strike by Catholic bishop Dom Luiz Flavio Cappio, which brought attention to the question of how Brazilians take care of their rivers. After moving to São Paulo in 2010, Flávio started researching, writing and publishing academic articles on sites and magazines focusing on water privatization and water pollution in Brazil. He also gives lectures at academic and social movement meetings on water issues, especially focusing on privatization and pollution.

Current Ministry:
Flávio’s primary ministry is with Migrant Pastoral Service, working with Theater of the Oppressed in the Mutirão community. This popular education technique uses theater to provide participants the opportunity to talk about daily external and internal oppressions. It fosters non-violent alternatives to address social problems. Theater of the Oppressed is a tool to work with impoverished communities who lack access to basic rights. Migrant Pastoral Service is a church organization that helps migrants in the Mutirão Community. It works especially with young migrants in a project focusing on dealing with violence.

In his alternative health ministry, Flávio does acupuncture, chromotherapy and Reiki in the community of  Tibiri and the Federal University of Paraíba.

Personal Data:
Flávio is a native Brazilian from Duas Estradas, Paraíba. He was introduced to the Maryknoll community through a friend in João Pessoa in 1998 and became impressed with their commitment to the poor and marginalized. Prior to becoming a Maryknoll lay missioner, Flávio was a government education secretary in Duas Estradas and involved in campus ministry.

He and his wife, Kathy Bond, met in Brazil when they worked together in a social justice project. After they married, the couple moved to Berkeley, California, and were active in the Holy Spirit Newman Community. They later relocated to João Pessoa, Brazil, where their daughter, Maya, was born in 2005. In 2010, they were transferred with Maryknoll Lay Missioners to São Paulo, and in the end of 2018 they moved back to João Pessoa.

Flávio has a master’s degree in creation spirituality from Naropa University, a master in environment and development from the Federal University of Paraíba, a doctorate in social sciences from the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo and post-doctorate from the University of São Paulo.

Flávio was inspired to do mission by the Franciscan Sisters who lived in his hometown when he was a child and by the example of people like Dom Helder Câmara. Liberation theology and creation spirituality have been sources of inspiration on his journey. He worked with immigrants in São Paulo, mostly Bolivians and Peruvians, in a non-governmental organization that works to prevent modern slavery. He also visited a public hospital twice a week to visit with and do reiki for organ transplant patients and hospital staff.

While in São Paulo, Flávio was trained in reiki, ear acupuncture and chromotherapy and for four years ministered at a holistic health center run by the Catechist Franciscan Sisters in the periphery of the city.