New York Conference United Church of Christ In Memorium Sueli Alves (da Costa) Gaewsky Sueli was born on January 22, 1961, in the town of Bom Sucesso in the Brazilian state of Paraná. She was the youngest child of Pedro Alves da Costa and Sebastiana Simões Pato da Costa. As a child she loved to help her father, a butcher and farmer, making sausage and picking coffee beans. While in elementary school her family moved to the “big city” of Curitiba where she also finished high school. As a teen she found great joy being very active in the Mennonite Brethren Church (Igreja Central) where she was a leader in the youth group. She attended and graduated from ISBIM, the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Institute. While studying at night, Sueli worked full time in the central library in Curitiba. At the age of 21 she left Curitiba to work in Northeast Brazil with AMAS, the Brazilian arm of the international mission, Mennonite Central Committee. One thousand and five hundred miles from her home and family, she worked for nearly three years in the sertão a desert region of Brazil (considered one of the poorest areas in the western hemisphere) very different culturally and economically from her home in the south. She began working in health education primarily with women, teaching hygiene, water purification, and family planning (and as she did throughout her life, she taught about faith in God). The drought in NE Brazil reached a crisis point at which time her work changed to emergency relief. She employed fifty women for one year to dig out a dry lake with the hope that when the rains returned, there would be water for their families. It was at this time she met an American boy, David, also working with the Mennonites, and a lifetime partnership began. Together they carried out water conservation projects and food distribution for almost two years. At the end of that time, the rains returned, and “Sueli’s Lake” filled with water. In 1985, Sueli and David married, and she moved to the United States. While in seminary, David and Sueli chose to study Liberation Theology for one year in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It was there that Sueli’s passion for justice grew deep roots as she would stand in solidarity with the “Madres de la Plaza de Mayo”. Their first child, Emily, was born in Argentina in the midst of an attempted military coup. After leaving Andover Newton Theological School in Newton Centre, MA, they moved to Middlebury, Vermont. There, Sueli worked for five years at Middlebury College Library where she was a Circulation Manager. She was very connected to the international students at Middlebury College and often invited them to her home as their “home away from home.” During their time in Vermont, their second child, Lyvia, was born in Middlebury and third child, Chase, was born in Burlington. From there she moved with David to Northern Virginia and worked in the Fairfax County Library System. In 1997, she came home for the first time to her beloved Maine, living first in Belfast and then in Readfield where their three children attended high school. During the Summers she worked as the camp photographer at the UCC youth camp, Pilgrim Lodge. It was while photographing children that the world learned of her great gift of photography. An artist in her own right, she carried a camera with her for the rest of her life, particularly fond of taking breath-taking pictures of nature. Her lifetime passion for photography will be featured on a forthcoming website. From 1997 – 2002 she worked first at the Troy Howard Middle School Library in Belfast, Maine and then as a classroom assistant for autistic students at Maranacook High School in Readfield. Always she would talk with youth about different cultures and about her beloved Brazil. In 2002 she began work as the full-time youth minister at Old South United Church of Christ in Farmington, Maine. She loved youth ministry. Of the many youth programs she began, none were more meaningful to her than introducing Maine youth to cross-cultural experiences. For ten years she led many mission trips to Honduras for both youth and adults. She also regularly brought Maine youth to Boston to learn from and experience the urban African American church. In 2012, she and David moved to Syracuse, New York. She soon was hired as the Youth Minister at Plymouth Congregational UCC in Syracuse. She incarnated her personal motto “It’s all about mission” expanding the programs to serve the low-income community in Syracuse and then returning to her passion of planning and leading youth and adult cultural immersion programs in Nicaragua. From 2015-to the time of her passing, she also served part-time as the Administrative Assistant to the New York Conference, United Church of Christ. She loved to travel and visited numerous countries in the Americas and Europe. She frequently spoke about her deep love for Germany, and in particular for St. Mary’s Protestant Church in the center of Berlin, where she worked on several occasions serving in a soup kitchen. In 2020 she left Syracuse to begin the most meaningful work in her life, providing childcare for her beloved granddaughter Hazel. Vovó was determined that Hazel would grow up bilingual. A week before her passing she participated in Hazel’s baptism giving her deep, deep joy. Always positive, always dedicating herself to serve others, always a woman of profound faith, she loved life, she loved to laugh, and she loved to dance the Samba. She took God’s hand on May 27th after a very brief stay in Hospice. A graveside committal service will take place at the Readfield Corner Cemetery for family members only. A Memorial Service is being planned for later in the Summer at Old South United Church of Christ in Farmington, Maine. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to establish the Sueli Alves Gaewsky Cross-Cultural Experience for Youth Fund. Details for the vision of this fund can be read here. Donations can be made online here or mailed to the New York Conference, UCC, P.O. Box 287, Syracuse, NY 13209. Checks should be made out to UCCNY and noted for the Sueli Alves Gaewsky Fund. She was pre-deceased by her beloved sister Leonice, with whom she is now dancing the samba in heaven. She is survived by her husband of 37 years, David; their three children Emily, Lyvia, and Chase, and their partners Chris Harmon, Andy Osheroff, and MJ Franklin; and by her beloved “chi-chi” Hazel. She is survived by Alice Berry whom she considered her third daughter as well as her sisters Nilda, Teresa, and Cida, her brother José, her mother Sebastiana and numerous nieces, nephews, and cousins whom she loved greatly. “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” (Robert Frost) ————————————————————————————— Letters of Condolences and Notes of Caring can be sent to David and the Gaewski family at: 32 Broadview Heights Dr, Readfield Maine, 04355 New York Conference UCC | P.O. Box 487, Syracuse, NY 13209 Unsubscribe email@example.com Update Profile | Constant Contact Data Notice Sent by firstname.lastname@example.org powered by Try email marketing for free today!
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