Missionary Voluntary Service: Two Experiences from the South

By the Volunteer Team of SOMI de S.J.S.

Missionary Voluntary Service (MV) is an authentic “sign of the times” and shows a lively awareness of the reciprocal unity among human beings. In order to fulfill its prophetic role, the action of missionary voluntary service must remain faithful to some typical essential features: the search for an authentic promotion of persons and of the common good, which goes beyond assistance; and the style of genuine gratuity, which must always characterize, after the example of Jesus, the action of believers.

The vitality of the VM represents a promising sign of hope: volunteerism is characterized precisely by its capacity to witness gratuitous love of neighbor, recognizing the existence of the cries of the People, cries that reach the ears of God the Father-Mother. On the other hand, it also recognizes a group of people – especially young people – who are knocking on the doors of the Church, of the Congregation, of the communities, in search of a concrete space where they can offer their lives for the building of the Kingdom. It is, then, the anguish and hopes of our peoples, together with the deep vocational expectations of many brothers and sisters, which are part of the context of the emergence of this project.

Voluntariado 3

The VM, framed in the structure of Solidarity and Mission (SOMI) of the Claretian Missionaries of the Province of San José del Sur (SJS), starts from the experience of Church – People of God on the way and construction of horizons of Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation. In it, we seek to build a community that:

– Experiences horizontality in the decisions that concern the life and mission of the Christian communities.

– Lives the respect and equality of the different vocations and ministries raised by the Spirit.

– Encourage gender equity in the distribution of roles and responsibilities.

– Be permanently permeable in the face of pain, exclusion and violence of all kinds, with the consequent disposition to effective and prophetic commitment.

– Promote a strong experience of Claretian spirituality: missionary and liberating.

The objectives of the MV Project is to promote the development of missionary volunteer experiences of people (especially young people) in communities of vulnerable contexts of the Province “San José del Sur”, so that by sharing life and mission there is a mutual transforming enrichment.

The MV Project of the SJS Province is heir to the experiences of Volunteerism that have taken place in the previous organisms that currently make up the Province (Province of Argentina-Uruguay, Delegation of Chile, Mission of Humahuaca and Mission of Paraguay).

As for the places where WV experiences are proposed, we focus on those communities that are affected by situations of poverty, exclusion, violence and environmental aggressions. The Volunteers are integrated in communities where those cries of the People to which we have alluded are audible, recognizable and are “crying out to heaven” for an answer.

Voluntariado 2

Currently, two types of Volunteers are being developed: a short experience (1 to 2 months) in Lambaré, Paraguay; and a long experience (1 year) in Ingeniero Jacobacci, Río Negro, Argentina.

In Paraguay, we seek to promote an experience of Shared Mission in the Claretian community of the Parish of San Juan Bautista de Lambaré, which is expressed in the participation of missionary volunteers in various projects and spaces offered by the local community, where processes of transformation take place through the sharing of life, service and faith. During the same, we accompany the journey of the different realities in which each chapel that is part of this parish is inserted.

In Ing. Jacobacci, the volunteer program aims to offer a prolonged volunteer experience to lay people to live, in shared mission with cmff, the commitment to announce the Reign of God in areas characterized by social vulnerability (poverty-exclusion) and environmental vulnerability (desertification-extractivism).

To date, since 2001,6 experiences have been developed within the framework of this project in the community of Lambaré, Paraguay. In Jacobacci, Río Negro, Argentina, three annual experiences were developed. In both communities, a new MV experience is being developed at this moment, which began in February, joining the two cmff communities that receive them. There are 22 young men and women who chose to carry out this experience, and it is worth mentioning that all of them found the way and the place to renew their pastoral commitment in their communities, with a renewed and enriched view.

Voluntariado 1

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