Extraordinary in your actions, baptized and sent
Echoing the message of Pope Francis to live in an extraordinary way the month of October, during which we celebrate World Mission Sunday, the Comboni seminary of San Francisco del Rincón, Gto., held the yearly meeting of the Comboni Ladies Auxiliary (known as Damas Combonianas in Mexico) and Benefactors.
Starting very early in the day, about 350 people arrived from several areas of the States of Guanajuato and Jalisco to share a day of fun, prayer and meetings. In attendance were Comboni priests and brothers, seminarians, religious and lay people and, above all, friends who share the same filial relationship with God as an ecclesial act, which is communion and source of a new life together with many other brothers and sisters. (From the message of Pope Francis for World Mission Sunday 2019). As one of the Comboni women said: “Coming here, I feel at home.”
They are, in the words of Pope Francis, “a Church going out to the farthest borders, requiring a constant and permanent missionary conversion.” Perhaps they do not leave their country to proclaim mission, Christ’s Great Work of Mercy, but they are always going out to meet others and to ask for support for those who have been chosen to witness to the prophetic vision of the Church in faraway lands.
Mrs. Macaria Bendita, a Comboni dama of the Dolores Hidalgo, Gto. group, is a great example of this Church going out, of constant and permanent conversion. For about 50 years she has been sending literature to friends and acquaintances inviting them to support the missions by prayer and financial help. She commented that engaging in this activity has been a source of great joy for herself and for her family.
Later, during the welcoming and coffee session, everyone was invited to listen to presentations and take part in missionary activities and songs. “How beautiful it is to see over the mountains the messenger announcing peace.” (Isa 52:7) These words seemed to come alive looking at the Comboni women and other benefactors as they listened attentively and with enthusiasm to the Comboni Missionary Fathers Mario Alberto Pacheco Zamora and José Arellano. Both of them had a lot to share from their experiences in the Philippines and in Egypt respectively.
Mrs. Macaria herself commented on how these witnesses are a source of joy and increase the desire to keep on working for the missions.
In the course of the Eucharist, Fr. Enrique Sánchez recognized, thanked and encouraged the work of the women and other benefactors, saying: “With your prayers, sacrifices, work and affection and with the collections you do for the missions, you are like the wheels of a car, like little ants who with anonymous and discrete work, you are not even aware the good you do for the missionaries, allowing them to realize their vocation without having to worry about tomorrow. You are the people who make it possible for the Comboni Missionaries to continue to bring the good news to many nations of the world.”
The Eucharist was followed by a meal, the cutting of a cake, a raffle and music. In this context it was possible to notice the communion and festivity generated by the gathering. It makes the participants feel important and recognized in their work and, as Mr. Armenta, a benefactor of the San Felipe group added, makes them feel at home.
The example of these women and benefactors invites us to think about the meaning of ourselves as being baptized and sent. That very important message that Pope Benedict XV gave us in the encyclical Maximum Illud, 100 years ago, referring to the missionary mandate to go into the whole world and freely proclaim the message you received without excluding anyone, is still relevant in today’s society. We are not called to proclaim the gospel in order to “conquer,” like in the days of colonization, but with the conviction that our belief in Christ, alive and risen, is a richness to be shared, communicated and announced.
Maricruz Torres Armenta
CLM San Francisco del Rincón