Where the Mission Contributes Missionaries

Lay People in Guatemala Evangelize Their Communities

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GUATEMALA CITY, JULY 18, 2003 (ZENIT.org-Fides).- Many churches in the indigenous Carcha and Chisec mission in northern Guatemala have been having weekly send-offs -- for missionaries of its own.



The Sunday ceremonies are in response to the Holy Year of Mission being celebrated in Central America in preparation for the Second American Mission Congress CAM 2, planned for November in Guatemala.

In the Carcha and Chisec mission, about 1,500 lay Indian missionaries prepared for three months before undertaking evangelization in rural communities throughout the territory.

Like the first disciples sent out by Jesus, the missionaries go in pairs from house to house inviting Catholics and non-Catholics alike to seriously embrace the Gospel.

The novelty in this new missionary endeavor lies in the fact that it is no longer a question of gathering people together for a collective work of evangelization, as in the past, but rather of having missionaries themselves go from home to home building personal relationships.

Eleven Salesian Fathers entrusted with this mission territory assist 417 communities of Qeqchi Indians. The ceremonial send-offs take place at Sunday Mass. The ceremony is solemn because the community is aware that it is assuming, directly or indirectly, a missionary commitment.

Women and children are also trained for missionary work -- a novelty among the communities where, previously, such tasks were reserved for men only.