Marcelo Câmara, the young Brazilian on his way to the altars

Marcelo Câmara is a young supernumerary of Opus Dei who died in Brazil in 2008. Although his courage in the face of cancer caught the attention of those who were close to him, what stands out most about his life is his fidelity to God and his commitment to the Gospel.

Paloma López Campos-June 12, 2024-Reading time: 7 minutes
Marcelo Câmara

Marcelo Câmara, servant of God (Marcelo Câmara Organization)

On Holy Thursday 2008, Marcelo Câmara, a young man of 28 years of age born in Florianópolis (Brazil), passed away. This supernumerary of the Opus Dei was only 25 years old when he was diagnosed with cancer. Despite the aggressive treatment the doctors subjected him to, he did not lose his joy.

However, Marcelinhoas he was known to his loved ones, is exemplary not only for the courage he showed, but also for his extraordinary fidelity. The young Brazilian was very committed to his friends and to God, to his law studies and, later, to his professional practice as a prosecutor. After joining a group of the Emmaus Movement, his life changed completely and he also helped many of his friends to come closer to Christ. He himself continued to take steps and two years before his death he asked for admission to Opus Dei.

Vitor Galdino Feller, vicar general of the archdiocese of Florianópolis and postulator of the cause of beatification, highlights all these aspects of the young jurist's life. Father Vitor is also a professor of theology at the Catholic Faculty of Santa Catarina and at the Theological Institute of Santa Caterina. He is also the spiritual director of the Emmaus Movement of Florianópolis. In this interview he talks about Marcelo Câmara, the example he is for young Catholics and the beatification process that is being followed.

What words describe Marcelo Câmara's life?

- I will say that one word says it all, the word that always comes to mind when I think of him: fidelity. Since his conversion, he remained faithful to his friendship with Christ. He was faithful to his daily schedule of prayers, Mass attendance and visits to the Blessed Sacrament. He was also faithful to his serious studies and teaching and to his commitment to overcome his illness. And when he realized that he was coming to the end of his earthly life, he was faithful to surrender everything and everyone to the Lord of his life.

He was a young man who marked his brief life by his fidelity to his relationship with God and with the people around him, by his fidelity to his commitments and by the small and simple attitudes that developed his path to holiness.

What attracts people the most when they hear Marcelo's story?

- The simplicity of his life, the realization that it is possible to be a saint in the little things of everyday life, the empathy that is created between him and young people, but also adults, who come to venerate him as someone close and intimate, the beauty of his smile, the contagious expression of his joy, his ability to bring together different expressions of ecclesial life (Emmaus Movement, Opus Dei, Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish, in Ingleses) in relation to his academic life (as a student and professor in the area of law) and professional life (as a state prosecutor).

I love the depth of his thinking on the Social Doctrine of the Church, on topics such as capitalism and socialism, environmental law and ecologyThe book is a very interesting and thought-provoking content in these times of extremism in which Christian social thought is unknown (or we insist that it is). A very interesting and thought-provoking content in these times of extremism in which Christian social thought is unknown (or we insist that it is).

What impact did the retreat from the Emmaus movement and his encounter with Opus Dei have on Marcelo?

- Marcelo himself repeated that it was at a meeting of the Emmaus Movement, listening to a talk on "Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God", that he was converted and decided to give his life to the cause of Christ and the Gospel.

He began to regularly attend a group of young people of the Movement and to collaborate with talks and testimonies in the various doctrinal formation meetings. Since his conversion, he remained in the Emmaus Movement until the end of his life. He became an apostle of youth evangelization.

It was there that he came to know Opus Dei. Without leaving the Emmaus Movement, he began to participate in Opus Dei, in which he was involved for the last four years of his life.

What was Marcelo's reaction to the diagnosis of his disease and what does this show us about him?

- From the beginning, he committed himself seriously and serenely to the treatment to be cured. He endured the hardships of medical examinations, hospital admissions, travel in search of better resources, all compounded by the realization that he was weakening physically. This reveals the love he felt for life and the desire to be able to live longer to serve and love more.

Finally, in his last months, aware that his illness was terminal, he made the firm decision to die well. He wanted to express the same fidelity that had accompanied him in life in his way of dying: giving himself into God's hands, strengthening himself by reading the Word of God and the sacraments, suffering in communion with the passion of Christ, saying goodbye and consoling his family and friends.

I did not get to know him personally, but reading his biography and the testimony of his friends, I believe that he lived and died like his friend Jesus Christ, who "having loved his own, loved them to the end".

What message does Marcelo Câmara's life convey to young Catholics today?

- That it is possible to be a saint as a young man of our time. At an age when a thousand doubts arise about life, the future, the family, courtship or sexuality, Marcellus lived his youth with fidelity and joy.

His was not an intimate, devotional and honeyed holiness, as it is currently publicized in the expressions of the Church and in social networks, a holiness that is actually false. Rather, it was a committed, incarnated, open and dialoguing holiness. It was an active holiness that went out to meet others, that went out to evangelize, that created communion and encouraged the mission, that promoted conversions of people, that aimed at transformations in interpersonal, community and social relationships. In short, the holiness of a normal young man.

In this time of so many interminable crises, Marcellus set out on his path of holiness, being a modern and up-to-date young man, but making a difference and taking a stand against what did not correspond to the following of Christ.

What steps have been taken and are planned for your cause of beatification?

- The cause of his beatification began to be thought of in a more articulate way in 2016-2017. Asked about the advisability of initiating the cause, our archbishop, Msgr. Wilson Jönck, suggested that the biography of Marcellus be written first, in order to make him known to the Christian people in general and to expand his reputation for holiness. The biography, written by Maria Zoê Bellani Lyra Espindola, was launched in March 2018 on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of his death. Meanwhile, the number of people interested in the cause has grown.

In October 2018, the Marcelo Henrique Câmara Association was created. This assumed the promotion of the cause and sent the request for the opening of the cause of beatification to the archbishop in November of the same year. Archbishop Wilson consulted the bishops of the dioceses of Santa Catarina, who supported the initiative, and also the Holy See, which with its "nihil obstat" made possible the use of the title Servant of God when referring to Marcelo.

In March 2020, the Diocesan Tribunal was constituted to begin the diocesan phase of the cause of beatification. The remains of Marcellus were transferred to a tomb of his own inside the Shrine of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in the neighborhood of Ingleses, in the north of the island of Santa Catarina, to facilitate the devotion of the people to the new Servant of God. This tribunal was commissioned by:

a) to collect the testimony of about 50 witnesses (family members, friends from adolescence, members of Emmaus and Opus Dei, parishioners, university professors, prosecutors and medical personnel) on the heroic living of the Christian virtues;

b) to forward the collection of materials related to the Servant of God (certificates of the sacraments of Christian initiation, report cards, university diploma, copies of the bachelor's thesis and master's dissertation, transcripts of lectures, e-mails, letters, the results of examinations taken with a view to becoming a prosecutor and medical records);

c) to ask two theologians to analyze Marcellus' writings theologically and doctrinally (articles in scientific journals, bachelor's theses and master's theses).

What was the work of the Marcelo Henrique Câmara Association in the process?

The Marcelo Henrique Câmara Association, while responding to the requests of the Diocesan Tribunal, worked on two fronts:

a) to divulge the history of Marcellus and the cause of his beatification;

b) to raise funds to maintain and carry out the process.

Once the diocesan phase was prepared, in April of this year the Tribunal for the Closure of the Cause was constituted. On that occasion, Archbishop Wilson sealed the box with all the documentation collected with his archiepiscopal seal, to be sent to the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints in Rome. On that occasion, with the Archbishop's placet, the Association elected and appointed D. Paolo Vilotta as postulator for the Roman phase.

What comes after this?

- From the testimonies and data collected, the Roman postulator writes the "Positio", a kind of biography with arguments that support and enhance the beatification and subsequent canonization. Once this "Positio" is approved by a council of cardinals and bishops, the Pope confirms it and declares the Servant of God Venerable. In the meantime, a miracle is expected to confirm Marcellus' sanctity. This miracle will have to be studied by a commission of doctors, scientists and theologians of the diocese where it takes place.

If a fact unexplainable by science, an immediate and complete healing, is declared, the miracle is further studied by a council of cardinals and bishops. If it is approved, the Pope confirms it and declares the venerable person blessed, setting a date for beatification. The same happens with the miracle in view of canonization, when the Pope declares the person a saint.

What can be done during this process to support Marcellus' cause for beatification?

- All that lies ahead of us could take years. First of all, because of the intense activity of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, which fortunately has many causes to analyze. And, above all, because we are waiting for a miracle for beatification and then another miracle for canonization. In this sense, our mission now is:

a) to pray for the success of the cause;

b) to collaborate financially to cover all expenses (services of various people who will be involved in the cause: writing and subsequent analysis of the Positio, scientific analysis of the miracles, travel, transcriptions, translations);

c) to ask God for graces and miracles through the intercession of Marcellus;

d) above all, to be inspired by Marcellus and to imitate his example in our journey of holiness.

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