Mission Possible: Grenada – Finding Christ in others Print this post

Staff Report (Florida Catholic)

7/25/17

“The Good News is no mere matter of words… It is about leaving ourselves behind and encountering others.” These words, delivered by Pope Francis during his 2014 Easter Sunday blessing known as “urbi et orbi” – to the city of Rome and to the world, resonated for the 47 Diocese of Venice Missionaries who took part in “Mission Possible: Grenada” from July 8-15.

It was during those eight days that the group, comprised of youth and chaperones, was challenged to enter into the lives of the very poor of the small island nation and as a result they encountered Christ in His many forms: in the orphaned, in the mentally challenged, in the homeless, in babies, in teens, and in families, etc. They could not help but be changed by this experience.

The Diocesan group that took part in Mission Possible: Grenada trip the week of July 8-15.

 

 

“Christ was waiting for them in the guise of the poor, the lonely, and the orphans,” said trip organizer Father John Ludden, Diocesan Mission Office Director and Pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Naples.

Diocesan youth get a hug from the residents of a home the group visited during Mission Possible: Grenada the week of Jul 8-15.

Madison Campbell, a senior from St. John the Evangelist Parish, said she encountered some of the most joy-filled people she had ever met and “realized throughout the mission, that these people were giving us more then we could ever give them by sharing their joy and smiles and allowing us to join them in their simple and peaceful lives for a short while. I not only gained gratitude for all I have been blessed with, but I also realized how much more work there is to be done in every corner of the world, including our own.”

Diocesan youth took buses to locations during their Mission Possible: Grenada trip the week of July 8-15.

The missionaries, who were from Epiphany Cathedral in Venice, San Pedro Parish in North Port, and St. John the Evangelist Parish, painted, repaired, and built playgrounds and homes, ran a Vacation Bible School, made icons for an island chapel, and held the hands and hearts of their brothers and sisters in need.

these are some of the children youth from the Diocese of Venice met while on Mission Possible: Grenada the week of July 8-15.

Josh Mendieta of San Pedro Parish said that each summer the parish youth group takes a major trip, but the Grenada trip was his favorite. “I like getting to actually work, to do something that makes a difference for people.”

Diocesan youth paint a building during Mission Possible: Grenada trip the week of July 8-15.

One missionary, Judith Ribarick, a senior citizen from San Pedro Parish, is decades older than the youth on the team, but was also one of the hardest working and enthusiastic.

“It is common for people my age group to think that the Church and the country is going to ‘hell in a hand-basket’ because it’s all that we see on the news,” Ribarick said. “However, I wish all those people could have experienced a week like the one I just had. Young people today are the breath of fresh air that the Church and the country need and they have given me a lot of hope. I know that the Church is going to be OK.”

A group from Epiphany Cathedral was tasked to make Stations of the Cross for a chapel during the Mission Possible: Grenada trip the week of July 8-15.

To get the most out of the mission experience, the Diocese collaborated with Catholic Heart Work Camp, an international mission program that coordinates such trips for Catholic youth.

While in Grenada, the missionaries stayed in dorms at the Grand Anse Undergraduate Campus of St. George University with other groups from across the U.S. These accommodations were meager relative to their own homes in Florida, but were extravagant compared to some of the homes they worked at, oftentimes nothing more than a shack. This is in sharp contrast to the coastal resorts frequented by many tourists who never see the interior parts of the island where the mission work was focused.

Diocese youth have a group reflection during the Mission Possible: Grenada trip the week of July 8-15.

During the week, the missionaries gathered to celebrate the Eucharist every morning and then split into teams to travel all over the island, where Christ was waiting for them, Father Ludden said. The first Sunday included Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in St. George. During the 2 ½ hour Mass, the group witnessed a baptism and the young missionaries likely did not realize they were going to immerse themselves into the lives of those who had gathered for prayer and worship with them.

Youth from the Diocese of Venice paint a building during their Mission Possible: Grenada trip the week of July 8-15.

They were joined by their peers who lived in Grenada. They realized during their time of work that these Grenadians listened to the same music, struggled with the same issues as they did, and were on the same journey of faith. These were moments of solidarity. 

Diocesan youth and chaperones lead a class for children during the “Mission Possible: Grenada” trp the week of July 8-15.

Father Ludden noted that Pope Francis has emphasized that the Church must engage Herself in mission in which we go to those who live on the peripheries. He once asked, “Who are the first to whom the Gospel message must be proclaimed?”

The answer, the Holy Father said in his 2015 World Mission Day message, “is found so often throughout the Gospel, and is clear: it is the poor, the little ones and the sick, those who are often looked down upon or forgotten, those who cannot repay us. Evangelization directed preferentially to the least among us is a sign of the Kingdom that Jesus came to bring: ‘There is an inseparable bond between our faith and the poor.’”

The poor of Grenada are those people on the peripheries, Father Ludden said. “Our young missionaries had several moments of encounter with them in which they know God was present. The missionaries personified the ministry of accompaniment that Pope Francis has been urging the Church to embrace.”

Youth from the Diocese of Venice Mission Possible: Grenada take part in Eucharistic Adoration on the beach of Grenada during the week of July 8-15.

During the trip, they spent time in Eucharistic Adoration. There also, they experienced the Sacrament of Reconciliation. 

“Just as the disciples experienced the Risen Lord on the seashore 2,000-years-ago, our young missionaries experienced Him there too,” Father Ludden reflected. “There, Jesus waited for them, ready to speak to them, to inspire them, to call them and to heal them. He also waited for them on the mountain side and in the villages as they set out to make a difference and change the world one person at a time!”

Diocesan youth with locals in a church during the Mission Possible: Grenada trip the week of July 8-15.

Each evening the group would gather for prayer and reflection. Then they talked about the highs and lows of each day, the blessings and the challenges.

“They spoke of how they had encountered God that given day and also spoke openly of how they were to continue the mission of Jesus,” Father Ludden said. The group returned from the trip different, noting to their chaperones that the experience was: “life-changing,” “moving,” “heart-breaking,” “joyful,” and “deeply spiritual.” By going outside of themselves and truly encountering Christ present in the poor and marginalized they were profoundly changed.

To see additional photos from Mission Possible: Grenada please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org.

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