My name is Brother João Soares, CM and I am Portuguese. It is with great joy that I write these lines and share with you something about my life as a young man, as a seminarian and as a Vincentian. Those three adjectives best describe me.
I am a young man who is 23 years old. At an early age I opted to offer myself to God because I had heard his call. When I was 14 years old I made that decision and at the age of 16 I entered the seminary of the Congregation of the Mission in order to offer the best years of my life to God. My life is one of surrender, joy and gratitude and all of that results from being a member of a Congregation that, as Saint Vincent said, has no other mission than doing that which Jesus did when he was on earth.
I am also a seminarian and that is an essential part of my identity. In fact, I am a seminarian at all times and I accept everything that is implied by referring to myself as such. Therefore, I cannot separate myself from that reality and, indeed, my life is characterized and marked by my previous decision.
I can be all of this, a young man, a seminarian but a missionary. That is certainly a characteristic that differentiates my life. To opt for the life of a missionary is to conform my life with the life of Jesus Christ, missionary of the Father. Therefore, at the present time I am ministering in Mozambique where I am engaged in my first experience of being a foreign missionary. Serving God in those who are most poor is something that can only be understood by those who are living in a similar manner. The gestures, smiles and movement of the eyes speak louder than any words. This has been an experience of interior conversion that has enabled me to experience the gospel as a “living word” and therefore lengthy explanations are not necessary in order to discover God. It is enough to keep one’s eyes open.
As a member of the VMY I want to assure you that being a young person and being a missionary is a lifestyle that is worth the while. Note the words of the hymn of the VMY that we sing in Portugal:
Vincent loved people with the heart of God,
We will open the cold and deserted earth
to the warmth of heaven above
Vincent loved God in the poor, in his brothers and sisters
To be a young Vincentian is to share the Word and bread!
Brother João Soares, CM
VMY in Portugal