When most people hear “mission” they think of going out to the remote lands of Africa, Asia or South America. Truth be told, mission is much simpler than that. It doesn’t even require taking any type of fancy transportation. Mission simply means living out faith in every day life; on the street, in the supermarket, with others. In fact, mission begins at home!
Yet, sometimes mission can also mean taking a little break from the day-to-day and re-charging. Recharging, on, well, mission!
Two weeks ago, many brothers and sisters from around the USA joined the Emmanuel School of Mission-Rome in Larchmont, New York for a mission at Sts. John and Paul parish.
The mission, of about ten days, involved the following:
Door-to-door visits. We walked down a myriad of streets knocking on doors hoping to invite locals to the mission events. We were sometimes invited in and drawn into long conversations but mainly, we just spoke to people about what was going on at the parish. Some of us did get the occasional door slammed in our face. But it only made us stronger and desire to keep going.
Open house. Parishioners volunteered to “open their homes” to fallen away or non-believing (yet open) friends and family to an evening of appetizers and sharing. Two to three missionaries attended each open house. We shared our testimonies and listened to their own stories and questions. By the end of the evening, lots of questions were answered and new friendships were kindled.
School(s) and retirement home visits. The ESM visited the Sts. John and Paul school (K-8) daily and prayed and praised with the children. While at the retirement home of the Little Sister’s of the Poor it was another time of listening. It was such a joy just to be in the presence of these little treasures of the Lord. Each one is so precious. At this age, loneliness can be a real burden, even though they are well taken care of. As Mother Theresa once said “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”
On our “down time” we missionaries shared meals together and where able to chat about what we had done and who we had met. The time spent together as a community was another time of evangelization. Just being in each other’s presence along with all the wonderful volunteers from the parish who cooked for us and provided every thing we needed was a great source of joy. It was in spending time together, that we saw Christ in one another and were reminded of how in being brothers and sisters who share the same calling not only gives us a source of grace but also a leverage that holds us up on this difficult journey of Christianity.
In the evenings we had several “evening programs” throughout the week. We all came together; missionaries, parishioners and local people that we had managed to reach out and invite personally.
Couples night, Consecrated night, Mercy night and youth night were just a few of the evenings planned. These evenings served to remind people of God’s love for them. The culmination of the mission was expressed through Mercy night. During this evening all were given the chance to encounter God’s Mercy through an evening of praise, Eucharistic Adoration, the availability of confession and a chance to be prayed over by a group of missionaries who prayed for special intentions. The evening was quite powerful and many of us witnessed God’s work in people’s hearts. This is where we realized that all of our efforts, lack of sleep, and doors slamming in our face, had really paid off. The Lord leaves the ninety-nine in order to find that one lost sheep.
Yet, despite the exhaustion, no one worked harder than the Emmanuel School of Mission. They were the driving force. They worked diligently and joyfully always! They were true witnesses of what it means to be Christian and to love through the simplicity of sharing Christ with others. It was really such a gift to meet such beautiful, young people. Thank you ESM for your joy and your fire for Jesus Christ!
Hopefully the next mission will only be just a bit away. In the mean time, proclaim Christ from the roof-tops so that He may be brought to the hearts of all mankind. Mission is indeed for every one! Evangelize where ever you are and remember that ninety-percent of evangelization is listening. Just love!