Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur Use Art to Reach Troubled Youth

Devoted to liberating those in poverty, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have long embraced the arts as tools for healing. Nowhere is this more needed than in the impoverished regions of Brazil, where centuries of oppression have isolated generations.
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Ipswich - Massachusetts - US

IPSWICH, Mass. - Aug. 20, 2013 - PRLog -- In Belém, Brazil, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur have developed a program that relies on the arts to serve as touchstones to troubled youth. Most notably, they have embraced the internationally renowned Theatre of the Oppressed. A dramatic model developed by Brazilian artist Augusto Boal in the early 1970s, the Theatre of the Oppressed encourages interaction between actors and audience in order to arrive at creative solutions to dilemmas.

“Unearthing truths through the use of the arts is liberating,” says Sister Leonore Coan, Director of Mission Support. “Helping young people see the destructive forces at work in their lives and then helping them confront those forces by adopting creative behaviors and solutions is the goal. In the process, these young adults craft more productive, hope-filled lives.”

Brazilian Sister Lucyane Diniz, who has been working with the youth of Belém for the past several years, uses all the arts  -- not just the dramatic arts -- to connect with young adults. An underlying component of her program encourages young Brazilians of European descent and the community’s indigenous youth to work together.

“Cooperation and collaboration are key to building productive communities,” says Sister Lucyane, who acknowledges that not everyone is comfortable on stage. “Writing, drawing, building, sketching – all artistry can be used to arrive at clarity and insight. It’s even more powerful when done in relationship to a group.”

Accumulating art supplies in remote and impoverished areas of Brazil is challenging, if not impossible, which is why the Sisters rely so heavily on the Theatre of the Oppressed. Acting requires nothing more than imagination. The populations the Sisters serve consider paints and paper to be luxuries. But, according to Sister Lucyane, nothing could be further from the truth.

“Not everyone is comfortable in the same artistic medium,” she says. “We do our best to provide art materials so that all the youth with whom we work can express themselves. It is essential. When individuals are emotionally grounded in hope, so, too is the larger community.”

To find out more about how Sisters use the healing arts in Brazil, visit:

 Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur are an international Congregation of women religious, founded by St. Julie Billiart (1751-1816) in Amiens, France in 1804.  The Congregation is committed to making known God’s goodness through education in a variety of ministries. Sisters serve on five continents: Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and North America, and work to change lives by a “fundamental commitment to stand with our sisters and brothers who live in poverty and accompany them in their struggle.” Offices/centers are located in Rome, ITALY, Namur, BELGIUM and Ipswich, MA, USA.  Visit our web site at:

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