It’s been six months since we first left Portugal to go and meet our family around the world. Since then we have heard so many different stories. We’ve already met many men and many women who, immersed in the Redemptorist charism, give the best of their lives to the Mission of Jesus. We have already seen many missionary projects being used as a means to reach out to the most abandoned in society. We have already shared tables with many different communities and different doors were generously open to let us take part in intimate moments of prayer.
All this happened in old Europe. Where we can sense that times of change are on the horizon. The Spirit demands new challenges and new approaches to our missionary creativity… But in Europe we have seen Hope. It is undeniable, though, that Church is losing ground in some regions… But at the same time, little by little, there is a new Church gaining ground and growing in numbers and strength. A Church future-oriented and focused on the source of the Gospel. A Church that is a true disciple of the Risen Jesus.
It was with this Hope and this strength in our hearts that, at the end of November, we flew to North America to continue this missionary project. The first stop couldn’t be better: Tucson, Arizona, on a weekend prepared and planned to talk about Partnership in Mission. Lay people and religious from all units had been invited to reflect on and pray for the way that is being built, sharing the current challenges and facing the future with joy.
It is very beautiful to see how this reality has become a priority for the Redemptorist mission, not only rendering it in documents but also in the concrete action of each Unit. We are all becoming increasingly aware that the way is made in partnership. Not out of necessity, but out of fidelity to the Master and His Mission. Here in North America, the Redemptorist Lay Associates circles (like the one in Tucson) are growing deeply committed to the Redemptorist Spirituality and thus opening new avenues to the spreading of the Gospel.
There are itineraries that need to be drawn, communities to be cared for, which need help in their growth, and so there must be a Spirit who takes the initiative and fosters all this dynamism. Starting with the personal testimonies given by Wendy and Greg, followed by the sharing of objectives, models and possible paths presented by David, Anne and Francis, to which Jack added a concrete and general vision of the reality lived throughout the Conference, they all gave valuable contributions to the opening of doors that will enable a deeper pledge to this partnership. The focus is always on the mission. For and to the Mission. The truth is that the Redemptorist Family has a great deal to thank these brothers for their work and dedication.
And so it happened that the reasons for thanking hadn’t finished yet! Our arrival at United States of America coincided with the Thanksgiving Day, and what a surprise it was when Ryan Holovlasky and the San Antonio student community invited us to celebrate together. It was such a privilege to take part in a celebration that we, as a Portuguese couple, only knew from the Hollywood movies. What a wonderful day!
The preparations had already begun the previous day: a beautiful table was set, with glasses and drinks. On Thanksgiving day itself the work was concentrated in the kitchen, in which the experts were leading the operations. The rest of the house began to dress itself for the feast, preparing appetizers, opening the door to outsiders and socializing, talking and listening to music. Because the day was a festive one even Sophia, the pet of the house, was all dressed up for the occasion! Everything was so beautifully done.
It seems that we, men and women, really are celebrating people. And this Redemptorist house was a mirror of it. An open door and a set table. Brotherhood and celebration. All serving one another in the joy of family, of a community. The turkey was delicious! And the wine, ‘Perseverance’ was its name, couldn’t possibly be more appropriate!
We’ll see you around,
Teresa Ascensão & José Silva Oliveira
Lay Missionaries of the Most Holy Redeemer
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