Pope: 'Going on mission means giving the best of ourselves and God's gifts'
By Benedict Mayaki, SJ
Pope Francis has sent a message to greet and encourage a group of missionaries – young people and adults - from the parish of Nostra Signora dell’Assunzione of Rio Cuarto in Argentina, who went on missions among the indigenous peoples of Salta, Victoria Este, in the diocese of Orán.
The missionaries, about thirty in number, spent a week among the Wichi communities, accompanying families, celebrating Masses and bringing the Word of God among the Indigenous people, under the motto “dreams are built together.”
“Thank you for what you have done, thank you for this work,” Pope Francis said to them in a video message sent on Wednesday, urging them to “keep going” with their mission.
"Mission" is a beautiful thing
“To do mission,” the Pope said, is “to go out of yourselves to give the best of yourselves and the best of what God gives.”
This, he underlined, “is a very beautiful thing.”
The Holy Father then extended his regards to Fr. Mariano Cordeiro, a parish priest in Serrano, who is accompanying the missionaries.
Finally, with a request for prayers for himself, Pope Francis invoked God’s blessings on the missionaries and further encouraged them to return to their missionary work.
Dreams are built together
Fr. Cordeiro explained that the motto of the mission is inspired by the Fratelli tutti encyclical.
He added that for three years now, the missionaries have been visiting these communities twice a year in order to grow in friendship with these indigenous communities. In fact, they travel for more than 5,000 kilometers to reach the border with Bolivia and Paraguay for their mission work.
Reflecting on the situation in these mountain communities, he noted that many have problems of malnutrition, lack of clean drinking water, and are very far away from any medical service.
“The lack of humanity with which our indigenous brothers and sisters are treated is very painful,” the priest said, adding that they are “forgotten by all, being one of the poorest places in the country.”
Mission to the indigenous
Fr. Cordeiro said that the mission experience provided the missionaries the opportunity to enrich themselves with the culture of the indigenous brothers and sisters in the mountains, including the poorest.
“We were able to touch the flesh of Jesus in these people, in the midst of extreme poverty, which hurts and makes us helpless,” he said. “Jesus looked at us and smiled and at us in the face of each brother and sister in the mountains.”
On a hopeful note, the priest affirmed that God “does not abandon His children” and highlighted that on the missionaries have sensed the Spirit of God on the mountains “in the simple, in the small and in the mysterious.”
He remarked that the young people have returned full of hope and the “Lord has awakened their sensitivity to educate them with this commitment to their brothers and sisters, with their neighbour.”