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Father Leo - 37 Years in BrazilOur former parish priest asks for your help
Father Leo Dolan, former priest of St Alphege's parish, and for the last 37 years serving
the poor people of Brazil as a missionary on behalf of Clifton Diocese, asks something of you.
Father Leo Dolan came to St Alphege’s parish in 1963 and stayed until 1969 when he moved on to Stroud. On a brief visit to Bath in 2008 he said, “I was very happy at Bath and I was working well. But there was always something at the back of my mind. ”You should do something else – more of a challenge”. It was the Holy Spirit working away at me.” I wrote to Bishop Rudderham asking to go on a mission, hoping he would say No. I got a big disappointment when he said, “From June 1970 you are free to go.” It was a big thing because I was leaving a lot of friends and interests. But then I went to Brazil and it was really good, and I can’t complain.”
"My prayers and my good wishes, and my heart go to all the good people I have known here in Bath and Clifton. Many of them have gone to
their rest, but the memories are great. We can take almost everything from a person, but we can never take the memories we have of that
person. Those memories of people here will be with me for ever".
“In January 2008 I was asked to go up country to the Amazon Basin to Rondonia. The rain forest is all around the parish, with
the beauty of nature, but also the problems that we all know about – cutting down trees, pollution of rivers by insecticides that are used
way down country to help grow the soya, maize and coffee. There are 24 little communities, each with their own minister, so they are able
to put on their own worship, baptisms and weddings”.
The Land Question and Human Rights
During his visit to Brazil Dr Derek Indoe met and stayed with Father Leo. While he was there Father Leo set off for Jequitiba, a remote and almost inaccessible place, to get pictures of the site where the huts had been set alight last August. Dr Derek could not go with him because the road was a dirt track and two of the bridges had been broken down. The 71-year old Father Leo travelled on the back of a motor cycle, the first time he had been on a bike for years and years. On the way the bike became stuck in a muddy river bed. At Jequitiba they found the burnt-out huts untouched, still awaiting an official investigation.
Father Leo and Dr Derek attended a national seminar in Brasilia on land reform, and met with representatives from INCRA, the government organisation charged with agrarian reform in Brazil, and also with one of the congressmen who is going to maintain contact with them.
Dr Derek has since returned to the U.K. but will be keeping in touch with the Father Leo in Brazil.
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Listen to a specially extended podcast of Father Leo talking in August 2010 during his visit to his home Diocese of Clifton. He talks about his life in Brazil and the everyday struggles of his parishioners in the Amazon. He also tells us about one of his amazing parishioners who was dedicated to reducing infant mortality in Brazil. She then went to assist people in Haiti following January's devastating earthquake. She was tragically killed in the Caibbean, but Father Leo explains how her legacy lives on.
What can you do to help?
The Representation to the Brazilian Embassy
The group outside the Brazilian Embassy in London.
Dr Derek Indoe; Sue Smailes of the Clifton Diocese
Justice and Peace Commision; Hugh Dowson,
renowned for his human rights work for East Timor; and Ozzie Ffield, former associate of the International
Centre for Prison Studies at Kings College London.
Father Leo and the motorcycle
The burnt huts - still not investigated
A Blessing from Father Leo
May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be ever in your back,
May the sun shine softly on your head,
And until we meet again
May the good Lord hold us all
in the hollow of his hand.