Healing, Science and Consciousness – interview with Caritas Center founder Gloria Coelho
This week I wanted to shine a light on a wonderful resource here in Boulder, the Caritas Center. The center has been serving the local community for 11 years, and I am grateful to have been volunteering in the healing room for a couple of years now. It feels so good to offer healing work to anyone who needs it, regardless of their capacity to pay. I spoke with Gloria Coelho, the founder and director of the center about its work and mission.
Katie: How did it come to be that you set up a Brazilian Spiritist center in Boulder?
Gloria: I became interested in the Spiritist centers in Brazil when I learned the healing work that they do, and this was about 35 years ago in New York. A couple of years after beginning that work, I went to Brazil and visited a Spiritist center and was very impressed with the variety of work they did there. Over time, since my mother lived in Brazil, I would visit periodically, and I became more and more inspired by what I saw in the Spiritist centers there. What I saw there was so much joy, so much love and compassion and healing on every conceivable level, so much beautiful service. It just opened my heart, and every time I would be coming home, I would be longing for something like that here. At that time, I had no thought of starting one, I was just bewailing the fact that there wasn’t one nearby! By then I was living in Boulder, and friends who were going to Brazil to see the healer John of God, were intrigued by Spiritism, and began asking me about it. So, in the fall of 2003,I invited my Brazilian mentor, Altivo Pamphiro, who, prior to his death in 2006, was a leader in the Spiritist movement in Brazil and head of several centers in Rio, to come to Boulder and teach a seminar here. 50 people attended the seminar, and over the weekend so many people commented ‘I’ve always somehow known this, but I’ve never had anyone to talk with about it’. At the end of the seminar, he turned to me and said “I insist that you start a Spiritist Center here, these people need community”. Talk about being put on the spot! So I took a deep breath and I told him that I would, and The Caritas Spiritist Center opened its doors in November, 2003.
Katie: Could you explain a bit about what Spiritism is, and how the Caritas brings it to Boulder?
Gloria: We are essentially a healing center with a strong educational component. Spiritism is the core of our program, we offer healing sessions, training in Spiritist healing and opportunities to study Spiritism. It is a metaphysical science and a philosophy derived from that science and its research. It is a study of the non-physical dimensions and consciousness, including the energetic components of healing, which are being investigated by medical researchers and scientists in Brazil.
One of the Spiritist Centers Altivo Pamphiro founded and directed for many years is the Centro Espirita Leon Denis, one of the largest centers in Rio. Practicing at that Center are over 3000 healers. Each week, on healing day, they see over 1000 people. Healing is always offered free of charge, this is a very important part of the Spiritist philosophy: that spiritual works like healing are never done for personal gain. There is never a charge for healing, or for studying Spiritism or Spiritist healing.
How we differ from the centers in Brazil a little is that we are more eclectic – the people who present here, the teachings offered, are from many traditions, not just Spiritist.
Everything we do here is designed to increase the level of consciousness in the people who come and attend a lecture, a workshop, a film, a meditation or a study group. It’s all in the service of raising consciousness.
A lot of non-profits deal with rescue, with helping people and animals in emergency situations. This is very important; these services are needed. Yet what I have always been drawn to is more preventive – the level of consciousness that generates these unfortunate situations needs to be lifted in order for real change to happen and be sustained. When one person, regardless of who they are, raises their level of consciousness, everyone is raised a notch. In cultivating a varied program accessible to the general population, generating interest on many levels and including different traditions, Caritas, together with many other “points of light” in our society, is in the service of elevating consciousness, which over time can begin to diminish and eventually eliminate things like abuse, homelessness and neglect in our society.
The most valuable work I can do through Caritas is to bring together the activities and programs that can help people to come into closer alignment with their essential spiritual nature and to provide a community in which to grow and learn.
Katie: If healing work and learning about Spiritism are free of charge, how does the Caritas support itself?
Gloria: Through members, people who support what we do, and donations. A small amount of revenue comes from workshops and lectures by visiting teachers, but these events merely constitute about 20% of the revenue needed. 3 years ago we started a Whole Body Vibration studio as a fundraising division of our organization. Our community was growing and we needed to expand, but we knew that in order to afford the expansion, we needed some supporting business, like a hospital has a thrift store or a church has a book store. However, I wanted it to be more in alignment with our healing mission, so we chose to open a studio with these leading edge therapeutic fitness machines, so that people could come and use them for a very nominal fee, and they could also buy them for home use. The machines we chose are called Zaaz. They are a fitness machine with so many therapeutic benefits that the FDA lists them as a Class 1 Medical Device. People love it, and they get all kinds of health benefits from using the machines, including stress relief. The studio helps to sustain the center financially, though we still rely heavily on memberships and donations.
We also could not do without the vital help of our volunteers. Currently, we have about 25 volunteers, who staff the Whole Body Vibration studio, help with events, offer healing work, and help with marketing and office work.
Katie: Are there any special events coming up you’d like to mention for our readers?
Gloria: Physicist Claude Swanson will be giving a lecture this Saturday, 10/18, at 7pm, on new breakthroughs and discoveries in the physics of auras and chakras. I’m very excited about this event! He’s a brilliant scientist, author and speaker.
Also, our Healing Arts Sampler, which we started in March of this year, has been very popular. We hold it on the last Saturday of each month. A wide variety of practitioners offer different bodywork and energy work modality ‘tasters’ – $5 for 15 min session, $10 for 30 minutes. It’s a really good way for people to meet practitioners, experience new modalities, and see what works best for them. It’s fun too, and very relaxing!
Thank you Gloria!
To learn more about Caritas, healing, current classes and upcoming workshops and presentations, visit the website.