"Peoples everywhere, open the doors to Christ!" (Redemptoris Missio 3).
Deep within the thick forests of "the Reductions", as it
was once called due to the fruitful work of many
a Jesuit father among the Guaraní Indians four centuries ago,
Youth for the Third Millennium and Missionary Families for the
Third Millennium went on a mission during their summer vacation
(it is now summer in Argentina, in the southern hemisphere).
It was an inspiring location, knowing that these lands were
one of the birthplaces of Christianity in the New World.
|Blessing the image of Our Lady given to the Guaraní village of Catupurí by Missionary Families for the Third Millennium.|
There were two sets of missions, one in January for
whole families who wanted to spread the good news together
and one in February for young people. Both groups began
their missions with a Mass at the esplanade of St.
Ignacio Mini, a mission territory rich in history and ruins.
It is one of thirty mission communities established by the
Jesuits and became home to more than 100,000 Guaraní Indians
during the XVII century.
The families and young people shared the
Gospel with these same Guaraní peoples who, after the Jesuits
were suppressed in 1767, moved further and further into the
forest awaiting the return of the missionaries. These new missionaries
experienced a simpler lifestyle where people live by the side
of rivers, speak their own dialects and many times make
do without running water, gas, telephones or electricity. They live
in small huts, eat what they cultivate and make their
own tools, which at times they sell to tourists.
|Young Argentine missionaries in a Guaraní village.|
surprised the missionaries that the Guaranies still live a very
authentic Christian culture, even though they have not received any
outside Christian formation for 250 years: they all have Christian
names, many times according to the patron saint of their
birthday, they sing songs in Guaraní that were translated from
Latin by a famous German Jesuit priest, Father Sepp. Many
of their crafts are religious such as crucifixes, mangers, and
statues of Jesus. It gives
the impression that you are
in a slumbering Christian village longing to be awakened.
|The missionaries shared their faith and their joy.|
important moment of the mission was the first baptism. It
took place in a village that had received missionary visits
for three years. No one in the village had been
baptized. This baptism opened the door of grace encouraging other
Guaranies to come forward seeking the waters of life. It
was very exciting to see the young missionaries teaching the
faith with symbols, images and Bible phrases in the Guaraní
dialect, with the help of translators. The young missionaries prepared
the ceremony, decorated the altar and were even the
Godparents. One month after this first baptism, God inspired six
other young men to come forward and receive the sacrament
|Father Arturo Díaz, LC, performs one of the first baptisms in the village.|
Missionary Families for the Third Millennium brought an image
of our Blessed Mother to the mission and the Guaranies
made a little house out of reeds for it. Father
Arturo Díaz, LC, blessed the image and everyone prayed for
our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Juan Diego to intercede
for the evangelization of the indigenous peoples and that the
mission may bear fruit.
Keeping with tradition all of the
missionaries visited the Iguazú waterfalls at the conclusion of the
missions. A number of missionaries commented that it was a
profound experience of the Legion and Regnum
Christi partaking in the new evangelization of the world for