Introduction: We, the three sisters who were going to integrate the new community of Entre Ríos in the Bolivian tropics, left Chile in March and we reached our goal after five months. Two sisters were stranded in Cochabamba due to quarantine and prolonged procedures. But finally, on St. Clare’s Day, we saw the light and were able to arrive at the mission.
How great was our surprise when we arrived in Entre Ríos, a miracle! Here, the virus does not exist. It is a population that has been strongly affected by Covid19, there have been many deaths, but the popular sentiment was and still is that everyone has been infected and nothing can happen to them anymore. So everyone is free, and with this conviction, there is no safety clearance, no masks, no fear, and this is the best remedy.
At the end of August, Sunday Masses and catechesis for Confirmation and First Communion began. Here many children and young people come to prepare to receive the sacraments. For us, everything was new: the culture, the way of running the parish, the climate… We were involved in the catechesis for First Communion and the formation of the altar servers; a sister accompanies the priest to a community on Sundays and helps him in the singing during the celebrations.
Logically, our mission has been totally conditioned by the pandemic, because each of us is responsible for making sure that it comes to an end, by taking care of ourselves and of others. That is why we have not been able to visit families and communities in order to become more integrated and to get to know our people better, although in some ways this is done through contacts with them in the parish, in the marketplace… Our main mission as FMM is to be “a presence of the humanizing love of God”, in the ministry of ENCOUNTER with those who come to our doorsteps, with those we meet in the marketplace, in the street…, a greeting, a smile, small gestures that generate LIFE.
The great challenge facing so many children and young people is how to move from catechesis to evangelization, so that the message of Jesus may penetrate their hearts… that they may be men and women open to the action of the Spirit so that they may allow themselves to be shaped by Him and be people who give themselves for the cause of Jesus, His Kingdom, in order to change this society too often dehumanized by our selfishness. It is a great mission, and make no mistake, nothing is easy because the objective that leads young people to catechesis is only to receive the sacrament. Then the majority disappears until the next opportunity. This generates great poverty in the local church because few people commit themselves to serve the community.
Before beginning his mission, Jesus lived a hidden life in Nazareth for 30 years. Reality gives us our individual ‘Nazareth’. To have a time before entering fully into the mission, to turn inward with all that this spirituality demands: a mystery of smallness, humility, silence and this implies a certain way of encountering others, with respect, attentive listening, without the concern of wanting to transform them in our image, being among them with the sole desire to manifest the preferential Love that God has for all.
We would like everything to be different, our mission to be much more intense; in a way, we feel “empty-handed”, but we remember the text of Luke (10, 20), where Jesus says to his disciples: “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” and he surely tells us: “Do not be discouraged because you do not achieve your goals, the important thing is that your names are written in heaven”. As God is never outdone in generosity, he will accomplish his mission “in his own way”, which will be the best.
May everything we experience be for the greater glory of God.
Maria Lourdes Rey Urdaci, f.m.m
Amalia Felicidad Conde Limachi, f.m.m
Danny Chacko, f.m.m