I am a former seminarian from Andrelândia, Brazil, where Fr Martin de Porres Ward, OFM Conv. is called by us “Frei Martinho.” We were his students, we lived with him, and we are living proof of his holiness. He is already a saint, in fact, for Brazilians. Father Ward resided for a time in the center-west of Brazil, in the State of Goiás, where he practiced sanctity to a great extent. He bestowed our holy savior on so many of the many in need.
Frei Martinho left the comforts of the United States to face a passenger ship, in the dark nights of the immensity of the seas, with only the faith that moved kilometers of distance to come and bring Jesus to the forgotten children of faraway South America.
Ward, who came to be a polyglot, faced the most difficult of languages, because the official/cultured language in Brazil is totally different from the Portuguese varieties spoken in various regions. It is a country with various cultural dimensions. The language has words that mean a lot, that say a lot, but don't say anything—because many listeners simply cannot understand them. Moreover, because in the 1960s, after Ward arrived, there was no internet, the great masses of the population were totally illiterate.
The economy was steeped in rural extractivism, with immense poverties; with various forms of slavery that existed in Brazil, such as slavery on sugarcane plantations; colonels on Goiás’ farms; the slavery of mining extractions in the State of Minas Gerais; as well as the enslavements in Rio de Janeiro: the trades. Even in the face of so many difficulties, Fr Ward managed to catechize in the most difficult corners of Goiás. Father Ward brought forgiveness to so many who could not otherwise reconcile with our blessed Lord because they did not know about the sacrament of confession. So many that he baptized could be called children of most holy God, and of the most holy Virgin, Our Lady.
How many souls went to heaven through Fr Ward’s blessings, so many who could stop sinning because they were taught the catechism, so many who stopped revenge because of his blessings?
We thank Jesus for the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi, through whom Fr Ward was inspired to teach the love of nature. So many rivers have been preserved, so many wild animals have not been led to extinction, so many forests could breathe by knowing São Francisco through the mouth of Santo Martinho, of Santo Ward.
Nothing could be more just than the canonization of Fr Ward. Already in the 20th century, Fr Ward raised the flags against racism, against slavery, against the overpowering currents of illiteracy. Only with thoughts can we raise our souls to the heavens, because knowledge has no barriers. It has no borders. Without borders, the skies are the limits, as it allows us to dream. Without dreams, we are nothing. We were born from the dream of the Lord Jesus to see the earth in peace, from the dream of the eternal Father to see his children being made in the image and likeness of himself.
Today they say that the great evils that afflict humanity are depression and anxiety. Already in times so distant, from 1955 to 1960, without even medication for such illnesses, so many souls were healed by confessions, by words of comfort brought by Conventual Franciscan missionaries who risked their lives to save ours, those of so many sheep lost in the vastness of the backlands of Goiás. I can testify that only Jesus can inspire saintly Fathers to leave the comforts of their native lands, the comforts of their language, to undertake the sacrifices of maintaining the castro. To save so many souls. To redeem and rescue, to bridge the gap between earth and heaven.
We thank the Blessed Virgin for the life of this holy man, Ward, that justice be done for him to be raised to the altars, as he inspired so many to leave their luxuries to enjoy the glories of our holy and good God.
For us, Frei Martinho is already being treated as a saint. So many pray to the Lord through his intercessions. Miracles attributed to him, freeing people from the chains that enslave even the perfect bodies, are not rare. Frei Martinho freed so many from the chains that imprisoned men to the earth, to everyday life, to fear, to surrender to spiritual illnesses.
Our dear Fr Ward, inspired by the Holy Spirit with concrete gestures, inspired breakthrough without fear, without chains. Freedom of body and soul. Without prayers, we don't dream, and without dreams, we are trapped in everyday life in the chains of sin. The Most Holy Angels, through dreams, warned St. Joseph to leave Bethlehem to become immigrants in Egypt. By dreams, the wise men were warned not to return by the same paths, so as not to tell Herod where the Holy Savior was born.
For this reason, know that Santo Ward taught so many to dream, to elevate their soul to God. Know, then, that we will embrace the dream of becoming like Frei Martinho. All of us born from the dreams of our ancestors, we who are dreams of humanity, we continue dreaming of more Wards in the seminaries, more Ward-like missionaries in the forgotten places of the world.
We must fulfill the dreams of our most holy Lord Jesus, those of seeing us all living the “Our Father” prayer on Earth.
Carlos Junior de Magalhães is a Brazilian businessman and lawyer devoted to the Holy Virgin, Our Lady. He lives in Goiânia, State of Goiás, Brazil, and works in social security law.