In the middle of a depressed economic, social and political reality, the Redemptorist laity accompanied by the seminarians and 3 priests, Fr. Alirio Suarez, Fr. Miguel Castro and Fr. Aly Villegas, director of the mission, we went to evangelize in the town of Junquito, to the Parish of Our Lady of Mercedes from Sunday, August 19 until Sunday, September 2. The objective of the mission was to enliven and strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ.
During the two weeks, 10 parish communities were attended. In the first week in each community, there were visits and blessings of the homes, activities with children and young people and missionary preaching. In the second week, though the visits and blessing of the homes continued, we gave more focus to the sharing with the families, caring for the sick, preparation of young people and adults for the sacraments of baptism and communion, and daily meetings of the small parish communities. In addition, the communities erected a beautiful cross of the Holy Mission.
The closure of the small parish communities took place on Saturday, September 1. The meeting with young people and the communities made a presence with great enthusiasm and joy as they arrived with their banners, whistles, balloons. Sunday, September 2 was the closing of the mission, the attendance was massive and the groups were very committed to continue meeting in the small parish communities.
This missionary experience becomes a sign of hope in the evangelizing task of the Redemptorists in Venezuela. It is possible to build the Kingdom of God from what we are and what we have, from what we give and receive, as happened in this mission despite the fact that many factors were adverse, among them the economic part, shortage of products of basic needs.
Something very impressive was that the communities were very generous and in solidarity with us, despite the economic situation, no missionary was left without food, because they shared what they had with us. One of the leaders of the community said, “The Redemptorist missionaries achieved what we had so longed for, organize ourselves to collaborate selflessly with everything connected to the mission”.
It is noteworthy that the mission gave us the opportunity to interweave humanizing relationships, to take care of our environment and let ourselves be surrounded by the community that welcomed us for 15 days. Being part of one of the communities there was a unique experience. Initially, I was planning to stay for 8 days but I stayed for 15 days because I felt so identified with the mission that I chose to stay.
I thank God for the wonders He works with his people, especially for this beautiful community of Junquito. The seed is sown in a good soil and we hope that they continue to cultivate it so that they bear good fruit.
As a Venezuelan Redemptorist Lay Missionary, it is up to us to work hard from the outside and not inside the church, to bring hope for the people in pain in the midst of despair, apathy and indifference. It is time to act, to discharge the ties without fear and to steer our testimony and everything we have learned, in order to be Witnesses of the Redeemer in a Wounded World, not only by words but also with deeds.
Sinay Lourdes Tovar
Vice Province of Caracas