When she was fourteen, Mev Puleo, a young American, accompanied her parents on a trip to Brazil. While riding a bus up a steep hill to view the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer overlooking Rio de Janeiro, she could see on one side the opulent homes and immaculate beaches enjoyed by the rich. On the other side she saw “ramshackle homes, children in rags, young and old begging for our coins.” These contradictions laid the foundation for her vocation: to create a bridge between the different worlds she had viewed from that bus.
Photography was her special means. She traveled throughout the Third World, documenting the life, struggles, and humanity of the poor. “The camera lens,” she said, “is the eye of my soul, through which I touch the world and the world touches me.” Her aim was “to revere the human spirit and bridge the distance between persons.” In Latin America she interviewed activists, prophetic bishops, and liberation theologians, sharing in writings and presentations a vision of a Church and a world renewed in the light of God’s reign.
Two years after her marriage in 1992 she was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Still she continued her work. In 1995 she received the U.S. Catholic Award for furthering the cause of women in the Church. She died on January 12, 1996, at the age of thirty-two.
“Jesus didn’t die to save us from suffering—he died to teach us how to suffer. Sometimes I actually mean it. I’d rather die young, having lived a life crammed with meaning, than to die old, even in security, but without meaning.”