Augustinian Recollects. Chihuahua, Mexico. Mission 2023.

45 parishioners of the Parish of Christ Supreme and Eternal Priest enroll in the “Evangelizing Mission 2023” carried out from April 23 to 30 in the Parish of Christ Supreme and Eternal Priest in the city of Chihuahua, attended by the Augustinian Recollects since 1986.

Seven weeks before Holy Week, the Augustinian Recollect Manuel Antonio Flores, parish priest of the Parish of Christ Supreme  and Eternal Priest, which encompasses eight lower-middle-class neighborhoods (and with very poor neighborhoods) in the city of Chihuahua, Chih, convened a the pastoral agents who persevere in the few existing small communities or who are in some pastoral ministry, to participate in the “evangelizing mission 2023”. 45 people accepted the challenge.

On February 14, before Lent began, the first of eight missionary preparation meetings took place, one per week. The same parish priest gave talks every Tuesday on how to announce the “kerigma” -an announcement of God’s love- to the distant, cold, indifferent, of other Christian denominations or to those who attend Mass on Sundays and are satisfied with that.

During all that time, they also took the opportunity to prepare the material: maps of the Parish, division by sectors and sub-sectors, printing of small brochures with the kerygmatic message to give away, preparation and printing of a sheet of parish notices about Mass schedules and office, folder and even making backpacks for the missionaries to comfortably carry all their material, in addition to ordering the missionary crosses to be made.

After seven meetings, once a week on Tuesdays, the talks were suspended in order to fully experience the Holy Week services. The first week of Easter was rest. In the second week of Easter, on Monday, April 17, the so-called “Day of Prayer for the Mission” began for five days, until Friday the 21st. The missionaries and all those enrolled in parish ministries, even if they were not going on missions, They prayed from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm, in turns, before the Blessed Sacrament to prepare themselves spiritually and pray for the people who were going to be visited in the mission. Obviously the daily journey ended with the Eucharist.

All the ministries and parish groups participated covering their corresponding guards in those five days of prayer: catechists of all levels, JAR (Augustinian Recollect Youth), the Secular Fraternity, CEAR members, Communion ministers, lectors, altar servers, choirs, small communities, couples groups, the School of the Cross, and others. The Day concluded on Friday with a “prayer assembly” led by Yani and Éric, a couple who are experts in SINE (integral system of the new evangelization).

The parish priest Manuel Antonio Flores took advantage of the days of the Day of Prayer to have the last meeting on Tuesday after Mass with the missionaries to clarify technical questions, and on Thursday, April 20, he met with the two couples who were in charge of the “stationery center” and the eight missionaries who would be in charge of opening the four daily “house of prayer and reflection” centers during the days of the intensive visitation. Sunday, April 23, was the key day: at the 1:00 pm Mass, the Pastor introduced the missionaries to the community of faithful, placed the Augustinian Recollect “missionary cross” on them, and read them the prayer of dispatch. That same day, two by two, they received their backpack with the maps per block and all the necessary stationery for their mission. The missionaries with their Bible in hand went out to knock on doors in sector 5 of the Parish (colonia 2 de octubre).

From Monday, October 25 to Saturday, October 29, the stationery center was open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm in two shifts. In the morning Mrs. Ramona and Luz tended it and in the afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Paty and Juan. At 9:00 am from Monday to Friday the Eucharist of daily dispatch was celebrated.

The missionaries agreed to make pairs and go out to bring the “message of God’s love” to the homes of sector 5 and half of sector 2 at the time they were released from their work and family responsibilities. There were couples who went out every day, either in the morning or in the afternoon. Commendable attitude and availability of all. Worth mentioning is the testimonial case of the ladies Conchita -who is almost blind- and her companion “Chita”, who is illiterate, who most days went on missions accompanied by another missionary or alone.

At Sunday masses, the names of the families who asked for the message to be brought to their homes were taken. Some of the missionaries visited these families, even though they were outside the territory they were scheduled to visit.

Of the four “houses of prayer and meeting” that were intended to be formed, only three were able to be installed, but to make way for those that will meet once a week, two persevered. The married couples of Raquel and Jaime, Lidia and Enrique paid attention to them on a daily basis and will continue to accompany them on a weekly basis.

Every day the stationery center had to close at almost 9:00 pm because the last to arrive were Miriam and Blanquita, who went on missions until they finished the assigned block. Part of the visitation work was to detect a sick person who requested spiritual attention. The data was written down and Fray Javier López Mauleón was in charge of going to confess them, give them the Anointing or take them Communion.

On Sunday, April 30, the “intensive visit” stage of the mission closed at the 1:00 p.m. mass. It was possible to visit more than 1000 homes. After the Mass, the “general assembly” was held, in which Manuel Antonio Flores thanked them for their missionary work, informed them about the results statistics: homes visited, those who accepted the message, those who rejected it, houses alone, businesses , people of other Christian denominations and others; He clarified that it is not the numbers that are important, but the grace of God that acts on the people who received the message, or “who saw us on the street or even those who rejected us.”

While sharing food and a refreshing pineapple water, some of the missionaries recounted something striking that happened to them during the “intensive visiting days”, to testify that, during the “mission”, the most edified are themselves.

But the “mission” does not end, the two “houses of prayer and reflection” remain open for ten weeks with one session a week, until arriving as well prepared as possible for the “evangelization retreat” which will be, God willing, the second week in July.