“It wasn’t a hospital. It was like a kitchen. I remember that she laid me down on a mat and afterward gave me a pillow.” Three tears rush down the cheeks of Luiz Alves, 48, as he remembers his encounter with Sister Dulce.
The Vatican announced that the Bahian nun, deceased since 1992, would be canonized. She will be the first woman born in Brazil to become canonized.
Luiz, who has a mental disability, was chosen by Sister Dulce when he was ten years old in 1981. Today he is one of 82 people with physical, mental, and other disabilities who live in the Sister Dulce Social Works, one of the largest philanthropic institutions that serves people free of charge.
The Sister Dulce Social Works is a type of “empire of good” whose headquarters is in Salvador, but whose work reaches other neighborhoods, cities, and states throughout Brazil.
With 964 hospital beds, the organization makes more than 3.5 million hospital calls and manages around $R190 million ($46.3 million) per year, surviving off of covenants, partnerships, and donations.
The organization ended 2018 with a deficit of R$11 million (R$2.7 million) and is searching for resources to acquire a particle accelerator used to treat cancer.
Without a defined focus—there are 21 distinct centers—the organization follows the philosophy to treat as many patients as possible.
Sister Dulce’s influence goes beyond Bahia: Thank you’s sent from the faithful number 10,000 and come from all over the world. She has strong bases of devotees in the north of Italy, Spain, and the United States.
The canonization also opens a door to boost religious tourism around the name and work of the nun.
Translated by Kiratiana Freelon