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29/10/2015 - Brazil - Walmor Muniz, SDB, a life dedicated to education through magic

(ANS - Niterói) - A magician in education or an educator-magician?  At ninety-four years of age, Salesian Brother Walmor Muniz resides in the Salesian community in Niterói. He is a Salesian passionate about education and one of the treasures of the Salesian Family of Brazil. His magic has crossed borders and his work has a place of honour in the "Guinness Book of Records". Here are some excerpts from the interview published by "Misiones Salesianas" of Madrid.

What was life like before you made your profession as a Salesian?

I was born poor, my parents were children of slaves. When they were freed they arrived in Rio de Janeiro in search of work. My father became an electrician and worked at it for forty years. My mother was a housewife, a good cook and a marvellous mother to her three children. In the family there was not much knowledge of religion, nor did we practise any particular religion, but in the home there was a strong sense of religion.

In 1929 when I was eight a Salesian Oratory was opened in Riachuelo where we lived.  The Salesians were very good, they treated us very well, we loved all the activities they had such as singing, theatre, and so on. This was what led me to join the Salesians. I liked their work and their interest in religion spread to me. I was opening my eyes to my future life. Even though I was a good student and I thought of studying engineering, I decided on a future with them. Then I was sent to Lorena, São Paulo, where I started my religious life as an aspirant and took on a job as a teacher and leader in the oratory (...).

Was it there your talent for magic began?

Exactly, but not intentionally. It was during carnival in 1944. We used to organize fun activities for the poorest children. The idea was to entertain the kids and keep them away from the streets. But by the third day we had nothing organized, and without thinking I said, "Oh, if only I could do magic!" and they did not let me finish the sentence. "Perfect, Walmor, you can put on an evening of magic." I did not know what to do, I had never done magic tricks. Fortunately, four or five other Salesians knew a few tricks.  I practised all day and I spent all night practising tricks in front of the mirror, unable to sleep I was so nervous...

When did you enter the Magicians’ Club and start the festival?

In 1956 I learned that there was a Magicians’ Club, where they shared experiences and tricks. All magicians had to have a pseudonym, so I called myself the Black Prince. Then I decided to invite the best magicians of the State of Rio de Janeiro to Niterói to put on a festival for the Feast of Don Bosco. They all came, Don Bosco is the patron of magicians. Each of them did two or three tricks. The show lasted an hour and a half.  I started, and my professional colleagues followed (...).  From 1944 to the present we have had more than seventy years of magic and more than 1,200 performances.

The full interview (in Spanish) is available on the website of Misiones Salesianas.

Published 29/10/2015

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