Father Jonas Abib, the founder of Cançao Nova, dies; Bolsonaro decrees a day of mourning in Brazil

Has died in Brazil, the night of Monday, December 12, the priest Jonas Abib, 85, founder of the charismatic community cancao nova (Canción Nueva), a very influential community through its preachers, spaces for retreats and meetings, and the media. Millions of people in Brazil have read his books on spirituality, What “The Bible was written for you” either “Fight discouragement”.

He had been battling myeloma for some time and had been hospitalized several times. After 30 days in hospital, he had been discharged on December 8, but died suddenly (“respiratory failure due to bronchial aspiration and motor dysphagia”). “Even when I’m sick, I’m a warrior!” he said humorously during his illness.

Official mourning day in Brazil

The President of the Brazilian Republic, Jair Bolsonaro declared official one-day mourning throughout the country for his death. The communication office of the federal government expressed its regret with a note that says that he was “a model priest, the Father Jonas was a faithful servant of God, totally dedicated to the ideal of leading souls to salvation by showing them Christ through his example. Founder of one of the largest Catholic communities in the world, he played a fundamental role in welcoming people to improve their lives and, consequently, improve our country.

According to the note, “the President of the Republic, Jair Bolsonaro, prays to God to receive him in His arms and give strength, faith and perseverance to the entire Canção Nova family to overcome this difficult moment and continue fulfilling the mission embraced by Monsignor Jonas Abib.”

The importance of Cançao Nova

In fact, Cançao Nova is not a very large movement: it has only about 2,000 committed members, the vast majority in Brazil, with communities and missionaries in Paraguay, France (Toulon, with Bishop Dominique Rey), Italy, Portugal and Israel.

But since Jonas Abib founded it in 1978, the community has been influential through its own media, its musicians and songs, youth missionaries, retreats and large meetings for young people and praise and worship meetings. Abib inaugurated “Rádio Canção Nova” in 1980 and “TV Canção Nova” in 1989.

Abib remembered in this video his first song, simple and catchy…

Cancao Nova, as part of the Charismatic Renewal, he trained many leaders and preachers from all over Brazil and other countries, and supported them with music, books and testimonies.

Since 2004, its headquarters in Cachoeira Paulista is a huge “Dom João Hipólito de Moraes Evangelization Center” with capacity for 80,000 people, one of the largest spaces in the world for Catholic events. It also has two smaller spaces, one with a capacity for 5,000 and an auditorium for 580 people. At its headquarters there chapels, a medical center, a school, a camping area (very used, there are always youth retreats), a restaurant and administrative buildings. More than 500,000 people pass through its facilities each year for retreats, adoration, praise meetings and conferences on faith.

Salesian and charismatic spirituality

Cançao Nova was recognized a few years ago as part of the entities of the Salesian Family, for following many of the intuitions of Saint John Bosco, through the teachings of Abib.

Jonas Abib was born in Brazil. Their father was of Lebanese descent and his grandfather had been a Maronite Catholic deacon. At the age of 13 he entered the Salesian seminary, and studied philosophy and pedagogy. he was ordained Salesian priest in 1964 (asking permission from the Maronite eparchy of Brazil to pass to the Latin rite). Shortly after he was a professor in a Faculty of Sciences and Letters and organized retreats.

In 1971, Father Abib lived the experience of the Effusion of the Spirit in a Charismatic Renewal retreat and since then he has been one of the great promoters of the Renewal in Brazil and Latin America. He was one of the pioneers in popular Catholic music in Brazil, encouraging its use to evangelize. He founded Cançao Nova in 1978 accompanied by a small group of young people.

The Canção Nova Community first obtained ecclesiastical recognition as a Private Association of the Faithful, which includes men, women, lay people and consecrated persons. Since 2008, it has received the pontifical recognition of being an International Association of the Faithful. Benedict XVI gave Abib the title of monsignor in 2007.

Jonas Abib, Salesian priest founder of Cançao Nova

In 2008, from a book he encouraged Catholics to combat the false spirituality of spiritism, umbanda and candomblé. The prosecutor of Bahia (the most paganized and spiritualist area in Brazil) accused him of inciting religious discrimination. The case even reached the Federal Supreme Court, which ruled in 2016. Simply, it was found that the priest dispensed with all “violence, domination, exploitation, enslavement, elimination, suppression or impairment of fundamental rights”, and that, after Nevertheless, religious proselytism is an “essential quality for the exercise, in its totality, of the freedom of religious expression”. Therefore, he won freedom of expression and the complaint had no further consequences.

Governors of States and mayors offer their condolences

Among the Brazilian political authorities who have spread their condolences for the death of Jonás Adib are the mayor of São Paulo, Ricardo Nunes; the Communication of Government of Minas Gerais (state with 21 million inhabitants); the federal deputies André Prado and Eros Biondini and the Governor of the State of São PauloRodrigo García (state with 44 million inhabitants).

“My deepest regret for the departure of Monsignor Jonas Abib, founder of the Canção Nova Community and forerunner of the Charismatic Renewal in Brazil. His teachings as a great evangelizer are sown for future generations. I am sure that Monsignor Abib will continue to watch over everyone and spread his legacy, now next to the Creator.” wrote Mayor Nunes.

Deputy Prado revealed, on his Instagram account, that he considers Monsignor Jonas a visionary when starting and expanding his work of evangelization through the media. The federal deputy stressed that the priest placed the city of Cachoeira Paulista on the tourist route of faith.

“He gave his life for love. Thank you Father Jonas for everything and for so much”, wrote the deputy Biondini. The federal deputy stressed: “Today, the Church simply hands over to the Father of Mercies its greatest and holiest priest.”

The governor of São Paulo defined Monsignor Jonas as a visionary who brought the Word of the Lord to millions of paulistas. “He expanded the work of evangelization in an unprecedented way by creating the largest communication network of the Catholic Church in Brazil. And he spread Faith and Truth abroad, with the Missionary Fronts in other countries. He shares with all the faithful of Canção Nova the admiration and respect for the work of Monsignor Jonas Abib. We must console ourselves with the certainty that his immortal soul is with Christ,” Governor Garcia concluded.

Since the international renewal

From Rome, Pino Scafuro, moderator of CHARIS, the body that coordinates the different world realities of the Charismatic Renewal, praised Father Jonas, “great evangelizer and charismatic who has given so much to the Church and to the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, of which he was one of the pioneers in Brazil and in the world”. He adds that “in his last years, Fr. Jonas lived the cross with courage, thus associating his suffering with that of Christ, in the silent offering of his life to the One who conquered him as a child. Fr. Jonas entered the seminary at the age of 12 and was ordained a priest in 1964, he remained faithful to God and always in love with his vocation. We hope that his legacy bears many fruits and makes the land where he sowed fruitful, both in the RCC and in the Church.”

Festival in 2007 with Monsignor Abib singing themes of faith in a light melodic style

Father Jonas Abib, the founder of Cançao Nova, dies; Bolsonaro decrees a day of mourning in Brazil