Time to count and celebrate 40-year harvest of Venezuelan Mission

| Deacon Mickey Friesen | September 13, 2010 | 0 Comments

Harvest time is around the corner. For farmers and gardeners, this is an exciting and satisfying time to enjoy the fruits of that labor.

Jesus often compared the kingdom to a field in need of laborers for a great harvest. The church continues and shares Jesus’ mission by taking its place in the mission field by lending our seeds of faith, our labor of love and our nurturing support of what God is growing. Every so often, it is good to stop and give thanks for the fruit God’s mission is harvesting among us.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the archdiocesan mission in Venezuela. It is good to stop and give thanks for the fruit of this joining of two churches, separated by distance, language and culture, but united in faith and a common desire to share faith, hope and love in Christ.

In 1968, this archdiocese responded to the call of Pope John XXIII for local dioceses in North America to share their resources of faith with the emerging Church in the South. This openness to mission eventually led us to the young church of Ciudad Guayana in Venezuela. The young, urban diocese of twin cities separated by two rivers seemed like a natural sister for us who share a similar situation.

The Venezuelan Mission began in 1970 as a sharing of our priests to serve in Venezuelan parishes and to build communities of faith. They were joined by several members of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls and some lay missioners. Eventually, the story of the mission began to touch the hearts of others.

Today, the mission is joined by seminarians, college and high school students, parish partners and medical professionals who share many gifts with their Venezuelan sisters and brothers.

Exchanging gifts

The Venezuelan Mission demonstrates well the reality that mission is a mutual enterprise. We have received many gifts in return for our sharing with the church in Venezuela. For example, many of the priests, sisters and lay people who served in Venezuela have become important leaders in the ministry to the growing Hispanic population joining our Catholic parishes.

Those returned missioners have been at the forefront of welcoming the strangers among us who cross our borders as new immigrants. Today, we are also blessed to receive delegations of Venezuelans who come to our parishes and schools to share their life, faith, music and struggles in their land.

Sept. 18, there will be a special celebration of 40 years of mission in Venezuela at St. Pascal Church in St. Paul, including Mass and dinner for all who attend. It will be a time to remember, to celebrate and give thanks for the harvest of Good News we have shared. The celebration will be followed with a similar one in Venezuela in October.

One of the lessons from the mission in Venezuela is that when we are willing to plant the seed of faith and offer laborers to work in the  mission field, God will provide an abundant harvest that bears good fruit. Let us taste and see the goodness of the Lord.

Deacon Mickey Friesen is director of the archdiocesan Center for Mission.

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Category: Mission Link