Parish renewals in Brazil involve the Vincentian Family.
“Popular Missions”- in language that dates back to the early days of the Congregation of the Mission – refers to what we would call today parish missions. Eli Chaves Dos Santos, CM, Assistant General, describes how the Vincentian Family in the 21st century has become involved in parish renewal.
From January 16 – 30, 2016, the Vincentian Family in the area of Rio de Janeiro – Belo Horizone, Brazil, gave “popular missions” in the Parish of Mary Immaculate in Japeri (a city on the periphery of the metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro). The theme of this mission was: “making the joy of the gospel resound” and some fifty members of the Vincentian Family participated (Daughters of Charity, Missionaries of the Congregation, members of Vincentian Marian Youth, the Miraculous Medal Association, MISEVI, the AIC and the Vincent de Paul Society) as well as many lay members of the parish. This mission had been prepared for by home visits, and meetings that took place during the months prior to the mission.
[For a valuable study of how “popular missions” could be done in cyberspace see Popular missions in cyberspace]
The purpose of those visits and meetings was to come to a greater awareness of the social-pastoral reality of the people, to reflect on the meaning and the method that would be utilized during the mission and then, to develop a program of activities. During the mission itself neither the heat of the summer nor the rain nor the risks from dengue or the zika virus diminished the enthusiasm of the missionaries as they engaged in an intense program of home visitation, formation sessions and celebrations of the Word.
In this area, marked by precarious conditions (strong presence of Evangelical/Pentecostal groups, inadequate pastoral care), the participation of the faithful was outstanding. The missionaries encouraged people in their practice of the faith, became a sign of solidarity, and strengthened the communities and the parish groups in their pastoral outreach.
The experience of the popular missions with the Vincentian Family, the manner in which they have been carried out during the past fifteen years in Brazil as well as in many other countries, provides us with an opportunity to renew this most significant Vincentian ministry.
During this year of collaboration in the Vincentian Family, the popular missions that are carried out with the Vincentian Family and as a Vincentian Family … hopefully these missions will enable us to be a family that goes out to the peripheries, a family that reaches out to those who are most poor.
Translated: Charles T. Plock, CM