Angel Mortel

CITY: São Paulo and Ibiuna
FOCUS: Health and Pastoral
MINISTRY: Pastoral da Crianca (Children’s Ministry)
PEOPLE SERVED: Families with pregnant women and children under 7 who are at risk of malnutrition
PROJECT GOAL(s): To prevent malnutrition and childhood disease related to being undernourished

Angel was born and raised in San Francisco, CA. She earned a BA in English and Third World Studies from Oberlin College and an MA in International Development from American University. Prior to joining MKLM, she worked at Academy of Our Lady of Guam on the island of Guam and at Bread for the World. She met her husband Chad while on Guam and they married in 1994. Together they lived at the Assisi Community in Washington DC.

They joined MKLM in 1997 and were sent to Brazil. Eventually they settled into life and ministry on the “periferia” of urban Sao Paulo in a community called Jardim Guarani and in 2004 moved to the rural town of Ibiuna in the interior of Sao Paulo state. While in mission, their two daughters were born. Today, Cecilia is 17 and Elisa is 15.

While in Sao Paulo, Angel had several different ministries. Her primary work was with the Pastoral da Crianca which is the Children’s Ministry of the Brazilian Catholic Church. Teams of volunteers visit families in resource-poor communities and accompany children and pregnant woman who are at risk of malnutrition. Angel was a volunteer, then a community coodinator and then the parish coordinator, representing her parish on the regional level. Angel also worked as a photographer for the local newspaper – Jornal Cantareira – and coordinated girls’ groups with fellow missioner Michelle Myers. Angel also worked with an income generation project for women, helping them find start-up funding and markets to sell their products.

In 2004, her family moved to a rural community called Ibiuna. Here she continued her work with the Pastoral da Crianca, working with parents who were agricultural day laborers. Rural families also struggled to feed their children and keep them healthy, and had the added challenges of being isolated from the larger community, far away from public services (like hospitals, health posts, government programs that offered supplemental income, schools), and receiving incredibly low wages for demanding manual labor.

As a member of the Brazil Mission Community, Angel served as MKLM Regional Coordinator for Brazil, BMC Finances Committee member and the MKLM GA delegate in 2008. Angel was also the co-coordinator of the MKLM Anti-Racism Task Force and has facilitated dismantling racism and white privilege workshops for MKLM orientation and return/renewal groups.

Angel’s family left MKLM in July 2010. They went back to the US for a year and a half, living in Maryland. Angel worked for the Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns as the Office Administrator. In 2012, they decided to move back to Ibiuna where Angel worked for an agricultural cooperative and taught English. Eventually, she started working for the Pastoral Carceraria (Prison Ministry of the Brazilian Catholic Church) with lay missioner Heidi Cerneka. Angel did grant writing and management for the Pastoral for two years.

In 2015, the family decided to move AGAIN! They wanted to give Cecilia and Elisa some time in a US high school since both girls would like to study at a university in the US. Chad got a job in Los Angeles, so the family settled here and they’ve been in LA for the last two years. Angel works for a small non-profit called Brave New Films that produces short and feature length films on social justice issues like criminal justice reform, immigrant rights, and economic inequality. She does outreach to faith communities who are interested in using BNF’s free film resources for their education, advocacy and organizing work on these issues. Several faith communities and schools use their films for social justice ministry, campus ministry, retreat/reflections, events, workshops, adult education groups, etc.