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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Phoenix Missionaries Set Out to Serve
82 Mission Youth volunteers evangelize and serve the poor during Holy Week.

Phoenix RC missions

The following article first appeared in The Catholic Sun, Phoenix´s diocesan newspaper. Reprinted with permission.

Young missionaries dedicate Holy Week to service, prayer
By Ambria Hammel | April 21, 2011 | The Catholic Sun

Two groups of largely local teenagers and young adults are spending the remainder of Holy Week carrying out as many of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy as they can.

This year marks the biggest turnout so far with about 40 girls and 42 guys — all ages 14 to 20-something — serving those in need. Some of them even took off from school and work for the Holy Week Missions.

Their service work began this morning when 15 girls sang while inmates lowered the caskets of six unclaimed bodies at White Tanks Cemetery in Litchfield Park. It’s a monthly ritual at the county cemetery.

“I felt really honored to be a part of their life — being there to pray for them as they go on their journey,” said Grace Minton. The St. Maria Goretti parishioner turns 19 this weekend.

They stood at a small distance from the burial singing hymns including “Amazing Grace,” “Be Not Afraid” and “Above All.”

Vanessa Hartz, a 24-year-old core member at St. Patrick Parish in Scottsdale, chose the hymns. She found some lyrics in “Above All” about dying rejected and alone particularly poignant for the inmates and the victims.

Angie Hawkesworth, a lay consecrated member of Regnum Christi, quickly connected their presence at the burials to the events Catholics commemorate during Holy Week.

“I also thought of Jesus,” she said. “[Being there today] gave them the dignity they deserved.”

By lunchtime, the young women still remembered the victims’ names as if they were longtime friends.

“They’re experiencing that they can be like Christ,” said Carrie O’Connor, also a lay consecrated woman. “We wanted them to have that experience of evangelizing and really serving.”

Phoenix Missions is an annual outreach of Mission Youth, which is affiliated with the Regnum Christi apostolic movement. Lay consecrated leaders coordinate different prayer and service opportunities for the young men and women.

A second group of girls served lunch to the homeless at St. Vincent de Paul near the human services campus. Fourteen-year-old Catherine Whitfield, a St. Thomas the Apostle parishioner, was surprised how many people came through the lunch line.

The girls are staying at Most Holy Trinity Parish and will join forces tomorrow with the young men, who are staying at Our Lady of
Phoenix RC missions 2
Guadalupe Parish in Queen Creek. The missionaries will pray at Planned Parenthood in Glendale and attend Good Friday services at Ss. Simon and Jude Cathedral.

They’ll also participate in the outdoor Stations of the Cross with André House starting near the state Capitol.

“Tonight I’m going to wash the feet of the homeless,” said 22-year-old Erika Marchant, an Our Lady of Guadalupe parishioner. She was part nervous and part excited.

It’s an annual tradition for André House staff and volunteers on Holy Thursday to wash the feet of their guests.

“I think we’re going to gain a better understanding of their situation” and help find the Jesus in them, Marchant said.

She’ll be doing more work like that soon. Marchant was accepted into the Peace Corps yesterday.

Other mission projects include creating and delivering Easter cards to a nursing home in Phoenix and going door-to-door in the St. Gregory Parish neighborhood. That’s where the girls will invite refugee families to an Easter festival they’re hosting Saturday.

They’ll also volunteer at The Magdalene House. Run by Maggie’s Place, the home is for women who are pregnant or have had their baby and are without a system of support.

At least three missionaries traveled from various places in California and another 50 people traveled as families from Los Angeles for door-to-door evangelization among Spanish-speaking homes.

Mission Youth, designed to be a year-round program, hopes to coordinate another Phoenix mission in June.



Related links

Helping Hands Medical Missions
St Rafael Guizar y Valencia Missionary Center

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Sponsored by the congregation of the Legionaries of Christ and the Regnum Christi Movement, Copyright 2011, Legion of Christ. All rights reserved.

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