Catholic World Mission (www.catholicworldmission.org) supports Father Matthew Devereux’s work of evangelization with the poor in Poland, article written by Joanie Hebert of CWM.
Legionaries of Christ fearlessly lead the way for evangelization efforts in Krakow, Poland. There they have been working with the poor and disadvantaged to stir the hearts of so many Catholics who have left the Catholic Church, and inspire a new generation of young people to take charge. In Poland, 87% of the population is Catholic, but only 54% of that take any liberty in participating in their Catholic faith. The Legionaries are bringing about a change in society. They are actively participating in bringing food to the homeless, evangelizing young people, and families.
The Legionaries know that no one is too young to embrace Jesus, and it is never too late. That is why they evangelize from the least of these to the oldest. Through their evangelization programs, they are helping people meet the Living Jesus where they are while slowly guiding them to step out of their comfort zone. They strive to be the hands and feet of Jesus and making sure the community knows they are welcome in the Church.
Young people are the future of the world, and if we take the time to invest in them now helping them to grow in knowledge and love for their faith it will count for a lifetime of change in this world. The Legionaries provide moments for young people to encounter the Living Jesus so that he truly becomes the principle guide of their lives, the only Person who is able to truly transform their lives definitively. The young people are taught to take responsibility for the local Church. They are helped to understand that if they do not become the salt of the earth the Church will lose its spirit of mission in the world. Formation, education, spiritual growth, and leadership are all essential elements of this work of preparing the Church’s next generation of intentional disciples. In a nutshell, the Legionaries look to show these young souls the beauty of their faith and lead them by the hand into a personal, ongoing and transformative relationship with their Savior, Our Lord Jesus Christ
“We believe that, because of the society that we live in, to wait till the stage of adolescence to begin working with youth is simply too late. Our work with children starts at the age of 3. These children meet once a month for a catechism program full of real life experiences and tangible/hands on activities that help them understand that our faith is real, beautiful and to be lived personally and shared universally.” – Fr. Matthew Devereux, LC
Evangelization starts so young because it is so important for them to feel loved no matter what. Evangelizing the least of these is a big part of the mission in Poland because what is learned as children sets the way for the rest of life. Children who feel loved by our Heavenly Father will know this love throughout life and seek it in times of trouble. The children are catechized in Vacation Bible School, learning teamwork, praying together, and taught the importance of the Mass.
Evangelization can not stop once someone is confirmed. It must continue throughout their life to be able to respond to the call of Christ.
“I sense that the moment has come to commit all of the Church’s energies to a new evangelization and to the mission ad gentes (to the nations). No believer in Christ, no institution of the Church can avoid this supreme duty: to proclaim Christ to all peoples” – Saint John Paul II
Family is the foundation of the mission for the Legionaries. Everything builds off the idea that their Christian values being taught will be practiced and supported at home. In this way, the whole family keeps one another accountable to live in the truth.
“It is very apparent that if we limit our work only to children or youth, then we can quickly see all our effort lost, when there is little or no support in their homes from their parents. As a response to this important need, we also offer moments where the whole family can come together for a spiritual activity combined with the presence of other families. This way they can also breathe in the air of the presence of others who are striving to raise their families in a spirit of true, faith and love.” – Fr. Matthew
Feeding the Hungry
Feeding the hungry answers the call of John 21:17, “He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that he had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” [Jesus] said to him, “Feed my sheep.” The Legionaries are inspiring young people through “Spotkanie Chrystusa w Ubogim” which means “the Encounter of Christ in the Poor.” The young people personally responded to the call of hundreds of people on the streets of Krakow. So many people are homeless and live without food on a daily basis and they are helping to feed them.
“It is an activity that empowers a young person to see that he or she is capable of making a difference in the lives of their brothers and sisters who have simply been less fortunate. At the end of each of these encounters the young stay with the desire to do more in the future for these people of the street – these Poor Christs.” – Father Matthew Devereux, LC
Giving food to the homeless Preparring Food for the homelessFood for the homeless
The Legionaries also have a mission called, “Operation Kilo.” With permission from local supermarkets, we spend the entire day in these stores inviting customers to buy an extra kilo of sugar, rice, flour, for families in need within Poland and abroad. At times, they have had over 100 volunteers on a single day who have collected over 5 tons of food.
“Yet another example of teaching the youth to see what they are capable of when they work together, give their time up for others and are united together in Christ.” – Father Matthew Devereux, LC
Learn more about how you can support the efforts in Poland by clicking here.