We have a new CLM taking the formation course in the NAP, preparing himself to go to mission.
Darrel J. Vandeveld is a lawyer and retired Army officer who graduated from the University of California, San Diego, and the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
He comes from Erie, Pennsylvania, where he raised his four children and served as the head of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office in Erie, from which he recently retired.
After September, 2001, Darrel served in the US Army in Bosnia, Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He retired from the Army Reserve in 2015 as a Lieutenant Colonel. In his final assignment for the military, Darrel was assigned to a capital murder trial at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington State.
Darrel has served as an elected member of his local school board, and has served on the boards of non-profit organizations, including the Pennsylvania Artists’ Collective Alliance, an organization dedicated to providing local artists with performance spaces and other resources.
He is a member of the St Joseph Bread of Life Community in Erie.
We are the Camey Figueroa family and we are happy to share with you our first steps towards our mission in Brazil.
We have been staying at St. Thomas, San Salvador, since September 7 and will return to Guatemala on the 22nd. This is we are going through or Experience of Detachment and community life prior to our actual leaving for our mission. It has been a very needed and enriching experience.
We could certainly try to imagine many aspects of missionary life, and even think that this experience is not even necessary, because it is enough to be very cautious in figuring out what we would do, carry along, how to work, and so on. However, It is only when you experience something personally that you see and live through things as they really are, and this is what has made this experience a great source of strength for us and for the CLM community of the Central American Province, because all the work we have done here has been possible thanks to the support of the new CLM that is taking shape in El Salvador.
Perhaps the most typical reality that we have experienced is the simple fact that we are a family. By the mercy of God, as a family we have my strengths and we know each other, we know how to be complementary and move on. But it is also true that the current situation is unusual, we never lived this way and it has been the source of some difficulties.
These difficulties have made us aware that we must stick together, be more conscious of our weaknesses and of the need to be patient and persevering in facing them.
More specifically, our missionary work, and it is worth saying that it is not separate from who we are personally and as a family, is very public in the context of daily life.
For the most part, we have visited seniors, some in poor health, others very old and ill and mostly afflicted by loneliness.
These are elderly people, who had large families, like in the case of Hilda who had six children, two died early and four lived with her. Her husband left her with the four. She had to work a lot and leave the children alone for many hours. Now her children, possibly without any bad intention, but wounded and never healed, reflect this same style.
Now she lives with one son, who only had one child and then his wife left him. This grandson, the only child of her own son, has also gone, but, at least this is good news, he has been in the seminary for several years and keeps in touch with his grandmother.
Even though we are neighboring countries, when we arrived we realized that we were seeing a degree of poverty and violence worse than in Guatemala. The social inequality has gotten worse since they changed from the local currency to the dollar without a referendum and the corruption damages any attempt to development. People are seriously abused and the Church is doing its best to help the communities face this evil.
We are very happy to realize how Bishop Romero was able to leave a mark in the life of many Salvadorans, who are anxiously awaiting their canonization in October. There is no house or church that does not have a picture of him, a true symbol of justice and a sign of God’s love, since he struggled to mediate between the army and the rebels.
These realities are not abnormal, because our societies are suffering in the same way. At time for the urge to enjoy “the good life,” and other times because of the poverty of our countries of Latin America.
Today, it is very important that we live fully our being family. We must believe in the promises of God, our good Father, so as not to worry about too many things, since the flowers of the field are so well dressed and the sparrows in the sky do not toil and yet eat. And so it is that our Almighty God always remembers us.
Our first preoccupation, or better yet, our first task must be love God and to allow ourselves to be loved by him. Life came from Him, and to Him it shall return (so we say daily) and so we should not be afraid to be father, or mother, or children and even more, to be family.
We thank God who gives us the opportunity to know him in simplicity and in daily life, but above all because it allows us to be witnesses to the abundant generosity of the people who welcome us in their homes, give us everything, and give us the chance to see that this mission belongs to God and not to us, who are simply a family ready to love and do his will, namely, “what is good, perfect and pleasing to God.” (Rom 12:4)
Thankfully, we had plenty of time for other activities, such as the mission promotion visit to the parish of St. Thomas on Saturday evening, where a Neo-catechumenal community gathers, they themselves missionaries ad gentes.
There we attended Mass presided over by Fr. Santiago Piccinelli, MCCJ, who introduced us as a CLM community together with our MCCJ advisor, Bro. Humberto. He also allowed us to promote mission even by selling our products we ourselves make with recycled material.
Human Development is also part of missionary work, as Comboni insists: Holy and able! So one afternoon we held a workshop to teach the women of the “colonias” La Hermita and La Moran how they, too, can make things with recycled material. It was, as always, a great experience, and even children came around. Even Niña Betty, who had her right foot amputated two years ago and still uses a wheelchair while learning to manage her prosthesis, did not give up and came.
The much awaited Mission Days of 2018 on the theme, “I am the Mission,” took place in Fatima on the weekend of September 15-16. These Mission Days were based especially on the presence of various institutes, congregations, movements and especially members of the missionary youth who came from various parts of the country and of the world.
The Days started with a welcome and a prayer prepared by the organizing committee, followed by the opening in the presence of Bishop D. Manuel Linda of Porto who gave us, as always, a few words on the meaning of mission and what it means to be in mission in today’s world, especially among the youth of this century.
A short time later we were blessed with a currently very prestigious speaker, Dr. Juan Ambrosio, theology professor at the Catholic University of Lisbon, who explained to us briefly and simply what “I am the Mission” means. According to him, “I am the Mission” is not an experience lived from the outside into the inside,, but it is I, myself and nothing more. In this case, “I am the Mission starts from within and goes out, to the “other” because, if I am the Mission, being baptized and a child of God, we were chosen by him to serve and love the others. It is from there that Christianity always holds as its foundation, goal and structure an experience of encounter principally with Jesus (his way of being and of living); with God (in the option for the kingdom) and with human beings and their history (their aspirations, their frailty, their accomplishments). This is why, according to Dr. Juan, Mission must be an experience of the encounter with Jesus which is personal (I) and in the first person plural (Us) and only in this way we will be able to be and to do mission in the world.
But to be complete and according to this idea, Mr. Ambrosio also tells us that it is not the Church that has a mission, but rather the Mission has a Church, namely, Mission is concerned with everything and is everyone’s concern because it is not reserved only to some “professionals,” but rather to all who are baptized in Christ. Thus, Mission can be described with three principles, or better, the great tripod on which the entire Christian identity is based: Charism, proclamation of the Word; Liturgy, celebration of our faith, the Eucharist; Diaconía, namely living in charity, thuds forming Koinonía as the fiber connecting these three pillars forming the Tripod. This is why the Mission of the Church must reach all the peripheries always keeping as its objective the proclamation, the celebration and the charity as the fullness of its essence in order to be considered fully Christian.
After a morning of theory, fundamentally based on “I Am the Mission,” as the theme of the Days, we continued in the afternoon with a more practical and concrete exploration through some workshops titled: 1. Church and dialogue; 2. Mission and communion; 3. Mission at the margins; 4. Everyone and everything always in mission; 5. To be Mission; 6. To share the journey.
In the evening we had with us the Mission Band to give joy and spirit to the young with its moving and heartfelt music. During this first day we also had some missionary witness. We concluded the day with night prayers before everyone returned to their nests to rest before the next day.
On Sunday, being the last day, we had a round table discussion with various contributions on the topic, “What Church do we expect? In view of a more dedicated mission.”
And to close the Mission Days, we celebrated the Eucharist presided over by Bishop Manuel Quintas of Algarve. After Mass we had the missioning of some individuals who are about to go ad gentes and the conclusions of these Mission Days. Then came the good-byes and the departure of each one to their mission and daily life.
On the weekend of September 14-16 three members of the CLM community of Guatemala, Mireya Soto, Miriam Herrador and Lily Portillo, together with our adviser, Bro. Humberto Rua, traveled to El Salvador, which is about a five hours drive from here.
The reason? …. Actually there were two and both very important!
First, Aljandro and Ana Cris Camey Figueroa and their four children are there to spend some time of community life, as a preparation for their upcoming departure for Brazil. The CLM community of El Salvador and the MCCJ community have welcomed them and guided them in activities of catechesis, visits, and have supported them in every possible way. They also had the opportunity to do some mission promotion in parishes and on radio. We saw their four children, Esteban, Isabel, Agustín and Lucia, quite enthused and busy in their mission with love and joy.
“EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR THE ADMIRABLE WILL OF GOD, LET US THEREFORE LOVE HIM WITH OUR WHOLE HEART AND PLACE ALL OUR TRUST IN HIM”
St. Daniel Comboni
The second reason was to visit the coordinators of the CLM-PCA of El Salvador, to give them our support. They are in their first year of formation, are well organized and, like in all beginnings, they experience joys and difficulties, doubts and fears. They are very committed people, full of faith and love. As they move forward, let our prayers and everyone’s prayers follow them.
“I FEEL SO TOTALLY FULL OF STRENGTH, COURAGE AND TRUST IN GOD AND IN THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY, THAT IAM SURE I I WILL PREVAIL IN EVERYTHING AND BE READY FOR EVEN GREATER CROSSES IN THE FUTURE”
St. Daniel Comboni
We entrust ourselves to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, St. Daniel Comboni, pray for us.
How beautiful is the wood sculpture of Africa at the feet of Christ. I allow the gaze of Comboni to penetrate me, to contemplate me. And how much of me fits into that gaze. I remember someone who once told me “it is impossible that it will not penetrate you, and question you.” And I agree every time I see this image of our tireless San Daniel Comboni.
This is the image I contemplate above the altar in the chapel of the MCCJ house in Madrid, where today I will wait until 4:00 PM, when the CLM David will come to get me to go together for the weekend at Arenas de San Pedro, about 100 miles from here. I can’t resist to enter and spend a moment with the Lord. I pray to him for the mission. Not only for my own, but for everyone’s. The mission of those who are about to go. The one of those who stay. Also in separation there is love. It means to leave what we have and earn something better: the freedom of giving ourselves to Christ. Separation is not something simply physical. It means to go out of ourselves on a daily basis. At each moment. It is what I continue to look for today, but that today is becoming more “doable.”
I leave my country looking for the wisdom and the grace I need so that, in the future, I will deposit my gifts in total surrender. So during the next few months I will be in Madrid, with the family I chose, the Comboni Family, for a missiology course. From the beginning, this program inflamed my heart and brightened my eyes, I must confess, just like it is with the anxious waiting of children the day before returning to school. This is what I am grateful for even today before this Africa at the feet of Christ: the opportunity to grow in wisdom and grace.
I know that I am fragile, but in a community that lives of and for love, I feel strong. Because “all I can in Him who comforts me” (Phil 4:13). “All I can in Him who comforts me,” I repeat. It resonates in me. Only in Him and through Him I could be able to go beyond myself, to go to meet love, to be free inasmuch as I trust in Him and in his hands, loving without measure. “God does not choose the able ones, but enables those he chooses.” Today I am understanding this quite well… and I pray to God that he may make me capable in the mission to which I have been assigned. This is for me and for those who are with me. Family. Boyfriend. Friends. People in general. Each in their own right, are part of this mission and I feel the need to bring them along.
“You become responsible forever, for those you have tamed.”
(Antoine de Saint-Exupéry)
And so it is… I pray for each of them, and for their mission. Pray for me as well, please. From the bottom of my heart, thanks for your trust… Not so much in me, but in God. Everything, including me, we are only possible in Him.
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