Patagonia (Argentina). During the months of December 2018 and January 2019, the Provincial Sr. María Elena Fernández and the FMA of St. Francis de Sales Province (ABA), together with young people and laity lived Mission Patagonia 2019, a meaningful experience in the year in which we celebrate the 140th anniversary of the arrival of the FMA in Argentina.
The first experience was at Las Heras, a community of 30,000 inhabitants. The mission focused on the new sector that is a bit outside the center and does not have a chapel. The young people, adults, four FMA, and the Pastor visited the people’s homes and the hospital, offering listening and blessing, oratory animation and a movie-forum. Sr. Danuta Drewnowska, FMA shared this: “In every home, we proposed prayer, blessed the home, and shared joys and labors. We shared Mass and the Sacraments with various Parish groups. Many suffer due to unemployment and yet many taught us how to be happy with little and without a steady job”.
Another experience of Mission Patagonia 2019 was the participation of the FMA and the young people in the 12th Diocesan Youth Mission at Puerto San Julian, “being missionaries of hope and joy”, sharing the Salesian charism and the option for the poorest youth. Sr. Ana Maria Guerrieri, FMA reports, “Today we lived the seventh day of the 12th Diocesan Youth Mission at Puerto San Julian, Province of Santa Cruz. There are about 90 young people coming from various areas of Patagonia who are fully living the mission. In the morning there is formation and personal prayer. The afternoons are lived in the oratory and in home visits in the poorest section of the city. The day ends with the Eucharist and a time of prayer. Here there is an atmosphere of love and joy because we all have something in common, the mission is a way of life”.
The third experience of Mission Patagonia 2019 was the proclamation of the Gospel in the geographical and existential peripheries at Tellier, in the factory areas of Puerto Deseado, Jaramillo, and Fitz Roy. The mission was that of visiting the homes to pray with the families, blessing the house, and in some cases, offering catechesis to receive the sacraments. In this missionary experience, hospital patients and those imprisoned in jail of Puerto Deseado were visited. Sr. María Elena Fernández, the Provincial, shared: “The greatest riches of these days was without a doubt, contact with people, families, the elderly, who were very ready to receive Jesus into their homes. It think that it was very important to approach each one; the people need this. The distances are great in Patagonia, the winds are sometimes very intense and invite us to remain inside, but the Lord continues to invite us to go out and bring the message of the living God who walks with us”.
The last experience was the mission in Terra del Fuoco, on the South Bank of Rio Grande City. Together with the FMA and laity of the Rio Grande community, we animated the oratory and visited the families in places so distant that it seemed it was the end of the world, but it is the place where the Dream began. Sr. Monica Cuomo, FMA recounts, “The Lord used us as instruments to rekindle the call in many people. Many times we perceive the touch of Jesus and the humble and generous responses to Him. We ended the Mission days with the celebration of the Word in which missionaries, adults, teenagers, and children participated. It was a joy to see their openness to grace!”
In the year of the celebration of the 140 years of the arrival of the first missionaries in Argentina and with the missionary experiences lived, the FMA of ABA Province renewed their ‘yes’ together with the young people and the laity, to follow the steps of the first missionaries, to remain among the people to be ‘light and salt’, going out to face life, sharing with the people because life is mission and the land of the mission is an oratory where no one is excluded.