Dilma Maria Barranho Franco Aleixo was born on April 20, 1963 in Condeixa. She spent much of her childhood in Angola, where she began her education with the Sisters of São José de Cluny.
Returning from Angola to continue her education she entered the Apostolic College of the Sister Hospitallers of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, where she remained for two years until it closed. She completed her education in Coimbra at the Dona Maria National Lyceum. She then decided to obtain a Nursing Degree.
When one seeks out an institution for the exercise of a profession, one often heads into the unknown, with all the concerns inherent to professional performance. When I took my first steps at a Hospitaller Centre (Casa de Saúde Rainha Santa Isabel – Condeixa) in 1995 I saw that all the attention dedicated to the person being cared for in the Institution had its own special art. I immediately felt connected and identified with it.
God moves in mysterious ways, and God was once again placed in my path. In my direct contact with patients I became aware of the existence of a reality beyond that which the world leads one to expect, and the Sisters Hospitallers were witness to this fact. Each of them with their different ways went teaching me the paths of hospitality. The hospitality that St Benedict Menni spoke of.
My professional career has been a growing awareness of how to be and how to act in front of a person who is suffering, always in a special, renewed manner. I began my career as a nurse as a provider of a service, and I always felt special pleasure in practising Hospitality as a method of care. My greatest joy was when I was invited to become a member of the Institution. As the years went and my work developed, I was assigned new challenges. I was entrusted with the responsibility of becoming the Nursing Supervisor as from 2005, and I try to carry out this responsibility by remaining faithful to the Christian principles that form the basis for this entire Mission, ensuring that the Hospitaller charisma is continued in the manner handed down to us by our Founder, St. Benedict Menni, whose centenary we are about to celebrate. Only in this regard will it be possible to consider whether my mission has been a success or not.