For 15 years lay men and women have dedicated themselves full time to spreading the Good News in Mexico, in a ministry whose name says it all: Full-Time Lay Missionaries. Now they are starting in the USA.
For 15 years lay men and women have dedicated themselves full time to spreading the Good News in Mexico, in a ministry whose name says it all:
Full-Time Lay Missionaries. Now they are starting in the USA.
Lost in the mountains of Durango, Mexico, the village of Banome was not exactly the easiest place for Cirilo Martínez to reach. Nonetheless, he took his job seriously and so he did everything possible to arrive.
On entering the town, a loitering band of drunks spied Cirilo’s guitar case and cheered for a song. They weren’t expecting to hear one entitled “The Prodigal Son.” The lyrics left them speechless with its message of unconditional forgiveness.
One drunk asked Cirilo, “Do you think God will forgive me?” Reassured that God would, the man insisted, “Even if I’ve killed 13 people?”
Swallowing down the lump of fear in his throat, Martínez told him confidently, “If you would come to catechesis more often, you would change.”
Cirilo Martínez is not simply a traveling musician. He is a Full-time Lay Missionary. This program of evangelization is focused on providing dioceses with well-prepared and well-formed lay missionaries who dedicate themselves totally to the task of spreading the faith. They use all their God-given talents and resources, such as playing guitar, to teach the faith.
Under the current circumstances of an overall shortage of vocations, these missionaries are playing a prominent role in handing on the faith.
Full-time Lay Missionaries receive their formation over an intense five week period. Though it may seem short for such an enormous task, some seminarians joke that the Lay Missionaries receive more formation in those five weeks than they do in several years.
Upon finishing their formation period, Full-time Lay Missionaries are completely at the disposal of their parish priest or bishop, and they receive a salary to support themselves and their family.
Their life is definitely not easy. The following testimony of a Full-time Lay Missionary in Chiapas, Mexico clearly shows it: “When I have to walk the mountains for three or four hours in rain or heat; when I try to relate to my parishioners as they indifferently regard me because they don’t know God; when I lovingly accept the sometimes harsh words of my pastor; when I keep silent under the attacks of critics; all of this has united me more intimately to God.”
And what have these Full-time Lay Missionaries been able to do these first 15 years of service to the Church? In 2005, there were 636 active missionaries. That year alone they helped 77 young men and women find and follow their priestly or consecrated vocation. Their work in 48 dioceses in Mexico has left their bishops deeply satisfied with the pastoral support they provide.
Right now Full-time Lay Missionaries are active in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Venezuela.
These men and women who place themselves at the service of the Good News 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, are certainly a model for all of us to take our faith more seriously and be more active in handing it on to others.
Like us, they were ordinary Christians, some worse off than others. But one day, the Lord asked them for their help, and they generously said yes. And the adventure hasn’t stopped since.For more information visit the webpage http://www.catholicworldmission.org in English or http://www.evangelizadores.org in Spanish. You can also send an email to director Alejandro Pinelo at firstname.lastname@example.org