Quenching the Thirst for God

Good News meditation.
by Good News Team | Source: Good News
After climbing a hill, three young men knocked at the dilapidated door of the only house in this outlying rural area. There was no reply from inside — but one of the boys happened to look through the window and saw a man in bed. He didn’t look well.

Half an hour later, a priest administered the last rites to the dying man just a few minutes before he passed away.

There are a lot of stories like this after the door-to-door missions organized by Mission Youth and Mission Family, an international network of lay missionaries sponsored by the Legionaries of Christ and Regnum Christi, the Legion’s movement of apostolate. Every year, the network’s evangelizing effort reaches its peak in what is called “Megamissions”, during Holy Week.

Last year in Mexico, 55,000 young Mexicans and a few thousand Americans spent their spring-break vacations on Megamissions — preaching the Gospel among 1.5 million poor people in more than 2,000 small towns.

“I came here expecting to give away something of what I have,” said Jesús Ontiveros, a 20-year-old missionary. “In the end, I received more than what I could give. People’s simplicity and thirst for God taught me a great deal.”

“Me too,” added José Guillot, a high-school senior. “I felt the need to learn more about my faith so as to preach it.”

The missionaries’ life is not easy. They come from middle-class and well-off families, yet in the towns they sleep on the floor of dusty schools or abandoned houses without running water. They eat whatever people offer them. The poor, however, tend to be generous and grateful and give them the best they can — tacos, frijoles, tamales, lemonade. Sometimes, the missionaries don’t get much time to sleep — during Holy Thursday night they go to adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in one-hour shifts.

“Living here for a week was an eye-opener to me,” said Andrés Landiere, a college student. “I learned how to appreciate God’s gifts to me and also learned that material goods are not necessary to be happy.”

Missionary youth and families serve by promoting and participating in parish liturgies, conducting youth events and kid’s camps, and inviting people around the community to come back to the parish. Missionaries are accompanied by Diocesan and Legionary priests who hear confessions, celebrate Mass, visit the sick and provide the Sacraments of baptism and marriage.

“I am the only priest in the area in charge of 10 towns,” Father Rodrigo Morales said. “Having other priests celebrating the sacraments and missionaries preaching the Gospel in my towns was an unexpected, God-sent blessing.”

“I envy my three kids,” said Roberto Díaz, the leader of the missionary families. “As an adult, I had to work hard on getting to know and spread my faith. My children, instead, are growing up doing missions. For them, evangelizing is the most natural thing.”

In 2007, over 65,000 missionaries participated in missions on all five continents, including 1,000 missionaries who worked in seven major cities across the United States and Canada.

What are Mission Youth’s plans for 2008?

“We are heading back to Denver this year, the site of our first mission in the United States back in 1995,” says Katie Stephens, Coordinator of Operations for MissionYouth. “The Denver community is very excited about this event which commemorates 15 years since Pope John Paul II’s visit at World Youth Day. In addition, we have teams planning to do missions in Miami, Atlanta, Chicago, Sacramento, and Phoenix.”

“Missionary activity,” John Paul II wrote in his 1990 encyclical Redemptoris Missio (The Mission of the Redeemer), “renews the Church, revitalizes faith and Christian identity, and offers fresh enthusiasm and new incentive. Faith is strengthened when it is given to others!”

For more information about 2008 Holy Week Missions:

• Check out MissionYouth’s website at www.youth4missions.com

Information taken from the www.regnumchristi.org and from “The National Catholic Register” (May 13-19, 2007).

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