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Tonio de Mello and one of his many sonsJesus Menino

Help Tonio care for his 46 disabled children: LifeFunder

WASHINGTON, D. C. (LifeSiteNews) — If there is anyone who embodies the fullness of the pro-life movement, it’s Antonio De Mello, a Brazilian Catholic man who has adopted no less than 46 disabled children. While his remarks during this year’s March for Life were brief, it is really not so much his words as it is his very life that most powerfully witnesses what it means to love each and every human being.

The children he cares for have been abandoned, and many of them were harmed by botched abortions in Petropolis, Brazil. De Mello has fully embraced what he describes as the “calling” of caring for them, now with the help of many volunteers in his community Jesus Menino  (Boy Jesus).

Shortly before his appearance in Washington, D.C. on Friday, EWTN shared De Mello’s story, largely in his own words. It began when he visited a local hospital to organize a party for the disabled children there.

“I opened the door and a boy said, ‘Do you want to be my father?’ I immediately felt that God was speaking to me, [telling me] to take care of them,” said De Mello.

He soon served as the children’s religion teacher, teaching them his own specially designed curriculum. The desire for fatherhood then began to “stir deep in his heart.”

“One night I went to the institution to help put the children to sleep. I witnessed how mistreated they were by the hospital staff. I was so angry, I prayed and told God, ‘I no longer want to follow you, because you are allowing this to happen,’” said De Mello.

“At this moment, I felt a voice in my heart telling me to donate my life to these children.”

He then consulted a local bishop about his new sense of mission, and was told to pray about it for two years. 

After those years had passed, De Mello said, “I still felt it was my calling. With the help of some young people, I was given permission to take care of some of the children. I rented a two-bedroom small house, and adopted 3 of the children. I wanted to form a family… and be a father like St. Joseph.”

Eventually, the hospital closed, and De Mello adopted dozens more children, bringing the total to 46 children. Now, said De Mello, his community has expanded to involve 700 caretakers worldwide, helping to take care of people with disabilities, who have been abandoned, victimized, or survived abortion. His local Jesus Menino community is like a “small town,” and includes a church and a school. 

“They taught me the true meaning of life,” De Mello said of the children. “I always say that in their abandonment, God found me and I found humanity in today’s world.”

“They were showing me a reality I didn’t know, which was how disabled I was. The biggest disability was my disability, because those boys made such an impression on me with their love,” he said.

In 2019, de Mello told LifeSiteNews that he was able to launch the community and maintain it “because this strength comes from God” and that “if it wasn’t for this perfect love of God’s trust in me, I couldn’t do it.”

Nestor Forster, Jr., a Brazilian ambassador to the United States, has endorsed the community and de Mello’s work as an “embassy of heaven on earth,” adding that “it doesn’t get more pro-life than what Tonio does.” 

During his March for Life appearance, De Mello invited people to “come help” their mission.

You can donate to help care for De Mello’s disabled children here. In addition to food, clothing, diapers, and health supplies, De Mello’s LifeFunder will help offset costs to pay for electric and home renovation expenses. 

Help Tonio care for his 46 disabled children: LifeFunder