Sister Isabel da Costa Araujo, M.M.
Current Ministry Location-Brazil
A bubbling, enthusiastic fountain of joy from East Timor in the South Pacific, Sister Isabel Da Costa Araujo is one of our newest Maryknoll Sisters.
She is especially excited that her first ministry assignment with Maryknoll is located in Brazil “My brother speaks Portuguese,” she explained, “and while I was visiting the Philippines once, I met two people from Brazil. I prayed, ‘Lord, please send me to Brazil.’ And now I am saying ‘Thank you! You really did hear my prayers!’”
Though she has had extensive experience in social work, Sister Isabel says she is keeping her plans for what she will do in Brazil purposely undefined for now. After first spending time to learn the language, “I plan to visit the homes of the people in the city to which I am sent and take time to sense the needs of the people.” Discernment of just what she should do may take some time. “I may struggle a little bit, but then I will let God be God.”
She currently lives in Sao Paulo with Sister Mercy Mtaita, MM, who is involved in pastoral care and leadership training programs.
Sister Isabel had been drawn to the religious life since she was a teenager. Her work with Maryknoll Sisters in the 1990s only intensified that desire. Then several Sisters, particularly Sister Susan Gubbins, MM, began to particularly inquire about her plans. Feeling an increasing “energy” inside her when she considered the matter, the still young woman said to herself “Why not?”
Prior to entering Maryknoll, Sister Isabel was a pastoral care worker from 1991-2003 at Brothers and Sisters in Christ Institute, an E. Timor organization dedicated to “empowering the poor, especially in locations that other groups do not reach, to become truly independent by developing cottage industries, handicrafts and agriculture, as well as spiritual growth.”
As part of this group, Sister Isabel worked closely with Maryknoll Sisters in various areas of social work in E. Timor. During that time, she worked with local government offices, as well as five NonGovernmental Organizations to find ways to help the disabled fine their voice in society, through personal development, both physical and mental.
One may she worked with was confined to a wheelchair. Yet Sister Isabel taught him how to make wheelchairs, tricycles and special shoes for the disabled himself.
Sister Isabel also taught reading and math to young people involved with the institute, and worked to mainstream them into the regular school systems.