Take 5 with Father: Here I am. Send me.

by Susan Moses

North Texas Catholic

Fr. Anderson Luis de SouzaFr. Anderson Luis de Souza
Father Anderson Luis de Souza, SVD, pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Parish (NTC/Juan Guajardo)


HE IS: Father Anderson Luis de Souza, SVD, pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Fort Worth since July 2020.

GROWING UP: The oldest of four, he was raised in Ponte Nova, a small town in southeast Brazil. Living next door to the parish priest, Anderson was often at the church as an altar server, music minister, and catechist.

LISTEN WELL: His parents and grandmother would ask, “What did you learn from the Gospel? What did you think of the homily?” after Mass.

PLAN A: Anderson’s mother is a nurse, and he thought he’d serve the community by being a medical doctor and remaining a catechist.

GOD’S PLAN: Several people told Anderson he’d be a good priest. “You’ve gone crazy,” he’d respond. “I will never become a priest.” But then God put the desire in his heart to be a missionary priest.

He interviewed with the Society of the Divine Word and entered the seminary on his birthday, February 26, in 1998.

COMING TO AMERICA: During his theology studies, his religious order sent him to its college in Epworth, Iowa to master English. He used all five words he knew [Please help me. Thank you.] to transfer planes at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport.

He had left Brazil in the summer, and he arrived in Iowa to knee-high snow. He initially thought, “I died and God sent me to hell. But it was a very good experience.”

After learning English, he did a pastoral year in Livingston, Texas, where the parishioners helped him pick up Spanish.

ORDAINED: May 1, 2009, in his hometown in Brazil. He requested that his order send him to locations with no snow, and he has served in diverse parishes in Brazil, Louisiana, Florida, and Texas.

COWTOWN CHALLENGE: Moving to Fort Worth in the early days of the pandemic was “stressful, a very big change,” Fr. de Souza said. Despite the disruptive protocols, he visited the sick and celebrated funeral Masses assure parishioners “the Church was there, on that sad moment in their lives.”

DIVINE MERCY: “As a priest, as an instrument of mercy, I have to take my time [during confessions]. To listen, to advise, and to call attention when it’s needed. To assure the penitent they will be forgiven by God through the sacrament.”

SEND ME: Fr. de Souza is inspired by the verse from Isaiah, “Here I am, send me.” “I always say “Yes, I go,” because of my obedience, because it’s my duty as a priest to go where I’m needed.”

BUSY SIGNAL: He and his siblings know not to call his parents at 6 p.m. They will be praying the Rosary.

PARTING WORDS: As a missionary priest, Fr. de Souza knows his assignment isn’t permanent, but he wants the parishioners of St. Paul the Apostle to understand “God is a loving God. They don’t need to remember all my homilies, but if they know that God is a loving God, I’m good.”

 

Fr. Anderson de Souza

Meet Father Anderson Luis de Souza, SVD, pastor of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, who is inspired by the verse from Isaiah, “Here I am, send me.” “I always say “Yes, I go,” because of my obedience, because it’s my duty as a priest to go where I’m needed.”

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