In the first Interview with Pierre Lukusa, we learned how our confrere found his way to Brazil and some discoveries he made on the path of his inner self-awareness related to alcohol dependency. In a new interview, Pierre offers us a deeper understanding of himself and the environment surrounding Fezenda de Esperança in Brazil. Can you remind us about your journey leading to Brazil? It happened that the founders of Fazenda da Esperança, Fr. Hans Stapel OFM, and Mr. Nelson Giovanneli, knew the Missionaries of Africa in Mozambique very well. They offered me the opportunity to go to Brazil for a full year programme. I came here on the 17th August 2012. I was very well received. So much so, that I felt part of a family from the very beginning. My immigration papers are in order till August 2013 when the programme officially ends. Tell us a bit more about the physical environment of Fezenda da Esperança. The Centre is located at about 300km North-East of the mega city of São Paulo. The place is encircled by few Christian communities belonging to the neighbouring parish. In a valley, the Centre is surrounded by the Sierra de Mantiqueira Mountains. In general, the weather is cool and the environment is conducive to personal meditation and reflection. It is like a retreat centre whereby I can reflect upon my life and my missionary vocation. Made up of ten houses, the Centre can accommodate 160 people for a therapeutic programme. To this figure, we need to add 15 residents; the father in charge and his counsellors. At the moment we number 167. Each house forms a community under the guidance of two coordinators who are themselves under the responsibility of a “Padrinho”, usually an ex-dependent who had already finished his therapy and work as a volunteer. Since last February, I am one of those “Padrinhos” in charge of two houses. At this point, I need to mention that there are currently 90 Fazenda da Esperança Therapeutic Centres, throughout the world, including one in Dombe, Mozambique, at the White Fathers Mission. What is the specific charism or spirituality of Fazenda da Esperança? Thanks to the spirituality of the Fazenda, my way of thinking and perceiving reality has positively changed towards everything. My daily experiences among my fellow drug addicts, as well as the “Direct Approach to the Unconscious” (ADI) programme, have helped me to understand the therapeutic method used in the Fazenda to help people caught by chemical dependency such as drug addiction and alcoholism. In his own time, Saint Francis of Assisi was a God´s sign for the Church when he proposed poverty and fraternal life style as a path leading to hope. Up to now, many people are inspired by this spirituality. Nowadays, this insight embraces drug addicted people and alcoholics. More recently, Chiara Lubich, the founder of the Focolari movement, brought in the world the great charism of “Unity”. It has become a collective spirituality bearing in itself a new hope for our century. This spirit of unity consists in putting Jesus at the centre of every single activity, including the decision making process. Those charismatic insights inspired Fr. Stapel and three young people; Nelson, Iraci and Lucilene. As a result, the Franciscan spirituality and the Focolari Movement have become the soul that animate Fazenda da Esperança; to bring hope to desperate people of our time, not only the drug addicted people and alcoholics but also families affected by all kind of behavioural disorders of their members. In a nutshell, Fazenda da Esperança is a Catholic community that is taking care of young drug and alcohol addicts, trying to show them a new way of life by living each day according to the Gospel. Can you tell us more about the therapeutic method used by Fazenda? The experience shows that those who seek help are suffering from inner problems before becoming drug or alcohol addicts. In other words, they are spiritually, psychologically, mentally, emotionally and morally disturbed before being physically dependant on drugs or alcohol. In order to be efficient in its mission, the Fazenda has understood that the main concern is not to fight against drugs and alcohol, but is to help the victims to be holistically reconciled. The method used is a threefold therapeutic method based on an active spiritual life, community living and manual work. The three elements are logically drawn from the Franciscan spirituality and the Focolari movement. This threefold therapeutic methodology helps people to gain back their ability to live in society, to master their own emotions and to strengthen their relationship with Christ, even though no one is obliged to be or to become a Christian. It has been evaluated that 80% of those who went through the twelve months therapeutic programme in different Fazendas have recovered their dignity and are back to a normal life, always trying to live according to the Gospel recommendations. Can you clarify the steps you have been through since your arrival at Fazenda da Esperança in Brazil? Upon arrival, I was given three months of initiation into the threefold therapeutic methodology. In December 2012, I was blessed to follow the “Direct Approach to the Unconscious” (ADI) experience that helped me to recover from my loss of self-esteem. In January this year, I followed the session of initiation to the Focolari movement together with other members of the Fazenda. After it, from February, I have been asked to accompany two houses as spiritual director. Currently, I have 40 persons under my guidance. Besides helping as spiritual director, I also give some sessions of formation to those being prepared and trained as coordinators for different houses. By doing this, I am working also on my own problem. Is your action limited to the two houses under your responsibility? As I said, our Centre is encircled by few Christian communities belonging to a neighbouring parish. I help the Parish Priest on demand. It gives me an opportunity to put into practice my new knowledge. I happened to meet desperate families suffering from misbehaviour caused by drug or alcohol abuse. So far, I have managed to reconcile two families. This makes me believe that what I am gaining here will help me later in my ministry. Has your prayer been transform because of Fazenda? When I feel frightened, I pray the Lord to transform my fear into trust. When I feel like suffering, I ask the Lord to transform my suffering into growth. When I experience a disturbing silence, I ask the Lord to transform it into a time of adoration. When I experience any crisis, I pray the Lord to transform it into maturity. When tears drop from my eyes, I ask the Lord to transform them into prayers. When I feel furious, I ask the Lord to transform this anger of mine into intimacy. Whenever I feel depressed, I ask the Lord to transform my discouragement into faith. When I experience solitude, I ask the Lord to transform it into contemplation. Being conscious of my own dignity enables me to go ahead with confidence, strength and courage. Positive attitudes in life, the desire to do well and helping others bring satisfaction in a constructive mind. The time to be happy is now! The place where to experience happiness is where I am. I am going through a new birth because of Fazenda de Esperança. I am asking the Lord to help me to see the colour of love in every living being. I want to feel the beauty of hope in every dawn. I aspire to always be able to decide about what is authentic, just and true.
What would be your last word at the end of the interview?
Once reconciled with oneself, everything else seems possible. It is like putting the Gospel into practice; loving your neighbour as yourself. In this regard, with his simplicity, our new Pope Francis is inspiring me greatly.