Saturday morning I went out to Plan Grande to facilitate a workshop with the base community leaders of that sector of the parish. 38 people came from five different communities.
We spent time talking about base communities and the new process Padre German has started - a process that, I believe, tries to help the communities deepen their relationships with Christ and with each other.
Each week of the month the base communities have a different type of meeting. The first week is study of a theme from a booklet. The second week is a time to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and more. The third week is a meditative reading of scripture. The last week, the group looks at their village and sees what might need to be done to make it better; they then decide what to do.
In the third week the community does a short of Ignatian imaginative contemplation of a story from scripture. To help them experience what this is I used the story of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes in John’s Gospel (6: 1-11).
We start with rhythmic breathing which creates an incredible silence in the room. Then I read the passage and asked them to picture themselves there and pay attention to what they are seeing and feeling and hearing – their personal experience. After a few minutes of silence, I ask them to share with the persons next to them and then share to the whole group.
From what they shared I can see that this has been, for at least some people, a way to encounter Christ in a different way. It has also been a way to open up the Bible for them. I tell them that they are not looking for a message, but opening themselves for a meeting with Christ.
I emphasize that this is only one way to read the Scriptures. Maybe next year we can have them learn how to do lectio divina.
The workshop also included sharing some ice breakers - dinamicas – to break the monotony of sitting.
After the workshop, some sisters I know drove out to Plan Grande to see the work on the house we’re building there.
Then I went to San Agustín (about 30 minutes away) for a meeting with the youth there. I had prepared a theme – trust – but they had something already prepared. Next time I’ll call the young leader a week or two before.
There were 28 young people meeting, which is great. But I think they need a bit of help since they don’t have a real sense of their common identity as members of a community. They are more like a gathering of 6 different groups of young people. But that is not uncommon here – or anywhere. We tend to stick with those we know.
On Sunday morning I was back in Plan Grande. (Yes, I need to live there as soon as possible.) A group from Plan Grande was going to the village of La Torera to lead a Sunday Celebration of the Word.
The people of La Torera had been going to San Agustín for celebrations but one leader from the nearby village of Descombros had come to visit them and they have decided to try to organize themselves. To assist this, each Sunday a team from one of the villages of the sector goes to lead a Celebration of the Word and to prepare parents and godparents for the baptism of nine children.
I took the Plan Grande group in my truck – at least 15 of them.
Two delegates of the Word from Plan Grande led the celebration in a house and they asked me to do the reflection. I managed to make it participative and under 13 minutes!
It was marvelous to see this small group of people who really want to live their faith. I can see some real leadership emerging among them and I do hope that they can reach out to the young people in their families. (As usual there was a small group of single young men just outside the house where we were meeting. As usual I made an effort to talk with them a bit.)
The people there are also hoping to build a little church. There are only about eight Catholic families in the village. Most people there are evangelicals and there are two evangelical churches there. The Catholics would like to have a small church. So they are collecting donations as well as seeking other ways to raise money.
Going to La Torera with the people from Plan Grande, it was also marvelous to see and hear of the sense of mission that people in this sector have. If I hadn’t been there, they may have tried to find someone to take them there, but I think they would have walked about an hour to get there,
I feel blessed to be a part of their missionary work.