Holy Week is the most sacred time of year for Catholics. Yet sometimes the holy days can go by as if nothing different was happening. This apathy and indifference in parish life is a problem that Pope Francis is facing head-on. In his chief pastoral document, Evangelii Gaudium #49 he said:
“My hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: “Give them something to eat” (Mk 6:37).”
This message of Pope Francis is being heard loud and clear, especially by millennials. They are leading the charge into the periphery: the highways and byways of the world. They have a knack for leaving behind a church focused on, in Pope Francis’ words, mere “maintenance” and self-interest in favor of a church focused on mission!
Take the Mission Youth apostolate for example. Last Holy Week they helped Msgr. EdwardThein at the downtown Atlanta basilica of the Sacred Heart. A hundred of these millennials, decked out in mission t-shirts and singing their very own theme song, spent Holy Week doing an astonishing list of mission work!
Here’s what they did: they went through the streets and parks in the neighborhood and invited every person to mass, providing detailed lists of mass times and “welcome home” type materials. They went to the local food pantries, homeless shelters, cancer wards and poor homes to cook meals and embrace all the needy with the warmth of the love of Jesus. They organized living stations of the cross through the nearby parks and downtown Atlanta. They packed lunches for the poor, helped the Salvation Army, ran an Easter Carnival for underprivileged kids and were present helping at every church service of the holy days.
One of the organizers, a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi named Emily Roman, said “these kids have a mission-focus, their enthusiastic and full of life! Sharing Jesus with others is something they seem to enjoy doing. What was amazing is that they themselves organized the mission and were running it. This was teen-led and teen-powered.”
“We’re definitely doing this again next year”, said Fr John Klein, one of their chaplains. He added, “Holy Week will now be Mission Week for us. That’s what the Church is about, right? Jesus said to go out into the streets to proclaim the good news. That is literally what these kids are doing!”
For more information:
– More info on Mission Youth Missions here.