MEXICO CITY, JULY 31, 2002 (Zenit.org).- With the canonization of
Juan Diego, witness of the Guadalupe apparitions and an evangelizer
of the Aztecs, John Paul II highlighted the role Indians
have in proclaiming the Gospel.
|Helping Lay Missionaries bring the Word of God to everyone.|
This is, in fact, the objective
of the Full-Time Lay Missionaries program of Mexico and Central
America, which trains and supports lay catechists, including many Indians.
Pinelo, director of the program, spoke with ZENIT about the
program, which has 1,000 Indians dedicated full time to evangelization,
and 35,000 part-timers.
Q: When did you begin this initiative?
1994 I began to dedicate myself to the formation of
pastoral agents who are committed full time to evangelization in
Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala and Venezuela, through a program of
formation that begins with five intensive weeks of study and
prayer, and continues with one-week semester updates.
Q: How did the
Pinelo: Initially, the work was conceived for rural areas
where priests cannot carry out all their activities because of
the vast territorial expanse of Mexican parishes. Some have up
to 20 or 30 chapels. One can only respond with
the laity to the great demand for formation, liturgical services,
pre-sacramental courses and preparation of catechists.
Q: The great majority of
the missionaries are Indians. Today they have a saint who
is very close to them.
Pinelo: Indeed, many of them are
bilingual, because in Mexico there is a great quantity of
dialects and Indian languages. There are more than 27 different
ones among our missionaries and catechists.
They are people as native
as Juan Diego himself, with whom many of them identified
with before he was beatified. The one who is now
a saint is very much loved throughout Mexico. Now he
will be able to be a more effective model and
intercessor in the new evangelization.
Q: Does this mean that they
only work in rural areas?
Pinelo: No. Our work is carried
out both in cities as well as the country, wherever
the bishop indicates a priority.
Q: On which bishop does the
program of evangelization depend?
Pinelo: On each one of the dioceses
where we are invited. The one who requests and authorizes
the program is the bishop. Often, it is he, himself,
who brings together his priests to make a general presentation
of the program. Each one of the parish priests chooses
the candidates among those agents who already have three or
more years of pastoral service.
Following the example of Juan Diego
Cuahutlatoatzin, we do what the bishop tells us, with the
certainty that in doing so we please God and will
Q: What is its specific charism? What is novel
about the program?
Pinelo: Apostolic effectiveness. We have St. Paul and
St. Peter as patrons. The former enlightens us with his
capacity of missionary work; the latter compels us to maintain
unity around the Vicar of Christ, giving us the guarantee
of going on the right road.
St. Augustine advises paying attention
to the road you take, because if you are mistaken,
the more you run the farther away you are from
We regard effectiveness as reaching the greatest number of
brothers, in a profound way, in proclamation and formation, in
the least time possible.
Q: This sounds like business language.
The fact is that the program is carried out by
the laity, many of whom are professionals and, needless to
say, we have wanted to put the best methodology at
the service of the Church. The latest fashion in the
16th century was the printing press, and the Franciscans worked
to bring it over; we use current tools.
Q: How does
the program work in practice?
Pinelo: We give in-depth formation to
full-time lay missionaries so that they can form others who
will be dedicated, even though part time, to catechesis, liturgy
or human development. In this way, we have been able
to prepare 35,000 part-time lay missionaries.
Q: Who accredits the formation
of these agents?
Pinelo: Our programs are based on the methodology
of the pontifical School of Faith, a university institution directed
by the Legionaries of Christ.
Q: Who pays for the scholarships?
They are paid for by committed laymen who finance the
Q: Juan Diego´s canonization is a very special moment for
you. Have you prepared a special activity?
Pinelo: Of course. We
have been preparing ourselves for over a year. Twelve hundred
of our missionaries were able to attend the canonization in
the basilica of Guadalupe, as the space was very limited,
but almost all of them were on the streets.
|In return for any donation to support the lay missionaries, receive a copy of this book FREE!|
we hold every two years, will take place on Aug.
2 and 3. Obviously, on this occasion we have dedicated
it to St. Juan Diego and the Virgin of Guadalupe
as the first missionaries of America. The motto is "Go
out into the world and preach the Gospel."
a TAX-DEDUCTIBLE donation to support this program, you can make
donations to "Catholic World Mission."
Go to www.catholicworldmission.org and
donate on-line or send to:
Catholic World Mission
33 Rossotto Dr
To celebrate the canonization of St Juan Diego--the first
"full-time lay missionary"--Catholic World Mission has published a one-of-a-kind coloring
book, "Fresh Flowers in Winter: the Story of St Juan
Diego." In return for any donation to support the
lay missionaries, receive a copy of this book FREE!
Spanish-language site at www.evangelizadores.org has more details about
the Full-Time Lay Missionaries program.