From 19 to 23 May 2017, four Redemptorist Lay Missionaries of the Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean participated in the third phase of the General Chapter and the Fourth Assembly of the Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean, held at Villa Marianella, Colombia. There has been a representation of the laity of the three sub-Conferences. From URSAL, Claudia Tebes (Province of Buenos Aires), URNALC José Antonio Hidalgo (Central America Province), URB Francisco Farias (Vice Province of Fortaleza), and Sinay Lourdes Tovar from the Vice Province of Caracas, invited by the Committee Ad hoc to present the guidelines proposed by the Redemptorist Lay Missionaries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
During the time of our meeting, there were moments of exchanging experiences, reflections and making decisions for the future of the Congregation. As lay people, we have had room to present the proposal for a list of lay missionaries of the Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean and it will be a contribution to the list of lay missionaries at the congregation level.
We thank the Congregation for opening the doors for the laity, for fostering the lay vocation and for the awareness that they not only collaborate with the Redemptorists for friendship but because we want to live the Redemptorist charism in our daily life and we feel that we are part of this great Redemptorist family.
We want to be subjects of evangelization and to remain faithful to our secular identity and the mission entrusted to us by our baptism. “You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last” (Jn 15:16). Lay people are called to be the catalysts of the message of salvation in Jesus Christ, that is, we are the guarantors of getting good news where the religious do not arrive.
Within this perspective lay people are called to be “the salt of the earth and light of the world” (cf. Mt 5,13-16) in a wounded society, a society that lives with fear and in despair. In this particular society of which we are part of, is where we need to work, where we need to bring the Word of God. That is why lay people are placed in the midst of the world, called to welcome and announce the Kingdom of God and make it alive in the lives of people, environments and institutions; In those places are where we must shine above all with the testimony of life, faith, hope and charity.
So our mission is not just to work in a parish, but to proclaim the Good News in our environments where we work, as Pope Francis recalled, in one of his speeches at the Vatican: ” Often we have given in to the temptation of thinking that committed lay people are those dedicated to the works of the Church and/or the matters of the parish or the diocese, and we have reflected little on how to accompany baptized people in their public and daily life; on how in their daily activities, with the responsibilities they have, they are committed as Christians in public life. Without realizing it, we have generated a lay elite, believing that committed lay people are only those who work in the matters “of priests”, and we have forgotten, overlooked, the believers who very often burn out their hope in the daily struggle to live the faith”(Pope Francisco. Vatican, March 19, 2016).
The signs of the times require the opening of the Redemptorist charism to all lay people (young and adult), especially to those who are willing to engage in missionary work. One must understand that the mission must be shared between religious and lay people, each bringing their own wealth from their actual reality. Thus, missionary activity can be more realistic, profound and fruitful.
Therefore, we must continue to bear witness to our missionary life in a climate of communion, participation and responsibility so that together, both religious and lay people, we are “Witnesses of the Redeemer, in solidarity with the mission in a wounded world”.
Sinay Lourdes Tovar
Redemptorist Lay Missionary
Vice Province of Caracas