A 95-year-old priest named Friar Roberto walked more than three-and-a-half miles while hearing confessions during a recent “Penitential Walk” in Brazil.
Some 30,000 people participated in the walk, which took place Feb. 28 in the northeast Brazilian Archdioceses of Fortaleza and Salvador de Bahia.
“It was one of most beautiful moments I saw today. That example of faith, love and fidelity for the things of God, which is what Friar Roberto showed us today, was a true proof of the presence of God in his heart. We've got to follow his example!” one person commented on social media, sharing pictures of the priest exercising his ministry.
The Capuchin priest was born on September 10, 1920, in the city of Maracanaú (Ceará State). He was baptized with the name Juari Magalhães de Sousa. When he was 14, he entered the Capuchin monastery. He then changed his name to Friar Roberto. He was ordained a priest in 1944 and has been a priest for 71 years.
According to Archbishop Gilson Andrade of Salvador de Bahia, one of the dioceses that participated in this initiative, the Penitential Walk “is a gesture that we all make in common as the archdiocese in this time in which the Church remembers that her journey is also marked by our sins, the sins of the faithful.”
“We pray together as a Church for others because we need to be freed from our sins with the grace of God and the prayers of our brothers and sisters. At the same time it represents a manifestation of our unity around our pastors,” the archbishop added.
More than 200,000 people walked five miles in the “Penitential Walk” of Salvador de Bahia. Many of the participants performed penitential acts such as walking barefoot and carrying small crosses.
During the walk in Fortaleza, a cross was carried to recall that Christ carried on his shoulders the weight of all humanity to redeem it.