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Nov 24, 2013

MISSIONARIES; NOT VISITORS OR VOLUNTEERS


We live in a world where volunteerism is becoming fashionable. In any poor place, we can see hundreds of volunteers serving in that area. I have seen youngsters staying in a Catholic centre - helping children living on the streets. These youngsters are Catholics by birth but don’t practice their faith - they don’t go for Holy Mass even on Sundays - but they are whole heartedly involved in the work of charity. Is this the kind of charity that the Church looks for? I recently came across a few people from one of the parishes in Kerala who had made a visit to a mission centre in North India - their Facebook pages were full of photographs of them posing with helpless, struggling faces. I thought then that their compassion might last for just a few days. In the Jesus Youth movement, we have been using the phrase ‘Every Jesus Youth, a Missionary’ for the last two years. How can we distinguish between a visitor, a volunteer and a missionary especially in the context of the beautiful Lenten reflection written by our Holy Father on faith and charity?

First of all, a missionary’s work flows out of his relationship with God. It is not a project that needs to be completed; it is not for his satisfaction that he works; the fundamental reason is the love of God - as St. John states, “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us” (1 Jn. 4:16). “Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction… Since God has first loved us (cf. 1 Jn. 4:10), love is now no longer a mere command’; it is the response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us” (Deus Caritas Est, 1). “Faith is knowing the truth and adhering to it (cf. 1 Tim. 2:4); charity is ‘walking’ in the truth (cf. Eph. 4:15). Through faith we enter into friendship with the Lord, through charity this friendship is lived and cultivated (cf. Jn. 15:14ff). Faith causes us to embrace the commandment of our Lord and Master; charity gives us the happiness of putting it into practice (cf. Jn. 13:13-17). In faith we are begotten as children of God (cf. Jn. 1:12ff); charity causes us to persevere concretely in our divine Sonship, bearing the fruits of the Holy Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:22). Faith enables us to recognise the gifts that the good and generous God has entrusted to us; charity makes them fruitful (cf. Mt. 25:14-30)” (Lenten reflection by the Holy Father for Lent 2013).

A volunteer is often more concerned about providing for the physical needs of the people, bringing a temporary solution to their sufferings. But a missionary is concerned first of all about the souls of the people that he is serving. Being with the poor and caring for their physical needs are means to fulfil this genuine concern of love. That is where the Holy Father warns us in his Lenten message, “Sometimes we tend, in fact, to reduce the term “charity” to solidarity or simply humanitarian aid. It is important, however, to remember that the greatest work of charity is evangelization, which is the “ministry of the word”. There is no action more beneficial – and therefore more charitable – towards one’s neighbour than to break the bread of the Word of God, to share with him the Good News of the Gospel, to introduce him to a relationship with God”.

For a missionary, the mentality is not “us and them” but only “us” because we are the Body of Christ - we share the brotherhood of Christ with them.

Volunteering often brings satisfaction to the self that comes from serving others - the self satisfaction of doing good for others. Often, this can happen without truly getting involved in the sufferings of the poor. On the other hand, for a missionary, work involves suffering and a painful stripping off of vices.

Once, during the course of a meeting I was attending, a young man who had just returned from a mission trip told us of the beautiful ways in which God had used him to touch the lives of the many poor and suffering people there. When his sharing was over, an elderly gentleman in the group who had been working for decades as a lay missionary said, “Son, I’d like to hear about the change that has come about in you as a result of this mission experience”. In the brief silence that followed, when the young man was struggling for words, I was convinced of an essential characteristic of a true missionary. For when a missionary returns home, his reflections mainly focus on how the trip transformed him internally. A volunteer, on the other hand, is more prone to talking about how the people and place changed as a result of his/her service.

The Holy Father beautifully shows how the relationship of faith and charity resembles the relation between the two fundamental Sacraments of the Church: “Baptism and Eucharist. Baptism precedes the Eucharist, but is ordered to it, the Eucharist being the fullness of the Christian journey. In a similar way, faith precedes charity, but faith is genuine only if crowned by charity. Everything begins from the humble acceptance of faith (“knowing that one is loved by God”), but has to arrive at the truth of charity (“knowing how to love God and neighbour”), which remains forever, as the fulfilment of all the virtues (cf. 1 Cor. 13:13)”.

I am sure that the Jesus Youth movement is looking only for missionaries – knowing that the journey can begin with a visitor who becomes a volunteer and then proceeds to the real call as a missionary. This, then, is the question we should all ask ourselves - “Am I a visitor, a volunteer or a missionary?”

Manoj Sunny

Aug 3, 2013

New Karnataka Jesus Youth Team 2013-2015

Dear All,
 
Thank you for praying for the Karnataka Servant Leaders Gathering and the KJYT reconstitution. We had close to 95 leaders from various zones of Karnataka who gathered in Rishivana, Mangalore.
 
The resources who helped us during the gathering are Baby Chayan, Dony Peter, Antony A.J (Coordinator, JYNT), Fr.Francis (Holy Trinity,Bhadravathi), Fr.Joy (Jeppu Seminary, Mangalore), John Joseph (JYNT), Dr.Nishan, Shoy Thomas (JYNT) and Sr.Sophia (DSHJ, Mangalore). The presence of several senior leaders and elders was a blessing to all those who gathered in the place.
 
We had presentations from the regional ministry teams and sharings by previous Coordinators and KJYT members which gave a dream as well as vision of Karnataka.
 
We had the reconstitution of the Karnataka Jesus Youth Team during the gathering. The new team was anointed by Fr.Joy and Fr.Francis. The new team members are as follows.
  • Jomichan George, Bangalore (Coordinator)
  • Anil D'souza, Mangalore (Asst. Coordinator)
  • Golvin Peter, Mangalore
  • Preena Jose, Belthangady
  • Anto Machery, Bangalore
  • Brayn Dias, Udupi
  • Ronald Menezes, Coorg
  • Mary , Dharwad
  • Pavithra , Mysore
  • Saiju, Belgaum
  • Sunny Gudinho (Ex-officio)
  • Sibi and Mercy, Belthangady (Family Representative)
On behalf of the outgoing team I thank the JYNT (Antony AJ, Immanuel, Jose Sebastian and all the other members) for the continuous support that we received especially during tough times. I thank all the zonal coordinators in Karnataka for the cooperation, love and for the effort they invested. I also wish to thank all the regional ministry coordinators of Karnataka. They were always an inspiration for the KJYT members. I also thank the other regional coordinators of India for being a source of inspiration especially through e-mails and meetings.
 
I thank God for all the blessings and for the great learning experience we had during the last 2 years. I wish to remember all the former KJYT coordinators, team members, the Church authorities in Karnataka who have given us very valuable inputs and have prayed for us during the last 2 years.
 
A special thanks to Tijo who was with me in all difficulties as well as joyfulness. I thank Fr Joban, Sr Simi, Sanjai Joseph, Joby and Remya for being a backbone in the team as Ex officios.
 
I humbly request your prayers for the new team and for the mission in Karnataka.
 
--
Regards
Baptist Sunny Gudinho
1 Jul 2013
 
 

Jesus Youth International Newsletter - July 2013

Crossroads II

Discipleship Training Program (21st June, 2013 – 29th June, 2013)
 
“Amazement seized all of them, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, “We have seen strange things today.”” - Luke 5:26
 
The Discipleship Training Program (DTP) was blessing to both the participants and volunteers. The program was planned with an intention to enrich campus students of Bangalore to live a life driven in Christ.
 
Crossroads II had 12 participants from various colleges across Bangalore. Though the program was intended for students who had some basic formation, the participants who attended the program were mainly new to Christ. This though became a challenge to the team, was not a hindrance in giving Christ. The program team re-worked on the entire program and made it applicable to the crowd. Extra effort was taken to inform the resource about the participants and to prepare them to give their best to them.
 
The retreat happened on the first three days of DTP (22 July to 24 July). It was planned and handled by Alex Njavallil and the Bread of Life group. The key speakers during the retreat were Cherian Ramapuram, Sunsun Jose, Rinu Thomas, Liza, Zacharias Njavallil, Jude Francis, Mathew, Clifford Njavallil, Jose Antony and Sharu. Fr. Roy helped the participants and volunteers by hearing their confessions and supporting them with all the spiritual guidance that they required during the retreat. The retreat ended with the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Rinu and Liza (from the retreat team) led the anointing adoration and were supported by three sisters from the St. Theresa’s Novitiate convent and Fr. Roy. We were blessed with the Presence of Alex Kuruvilla throughout the retreat and the Outreach, specially in guiding the Volunteers, to be stronger in Witnessing the Love that we have received, from Jesus Christ – our Lord and Saviour!
 
After the retreat there was a training program for the participants, to equip them to live a Christ centred life and to instil in them a desire to share Christ.
 
The training program kick started with an outreach to Swanthana; an institute run by Daughters of St. Camillus, which houses children with special needs – arising out of physical conditions that include being mentally and physically challenged. To equip them to live a true Christian life, we had sessions on Being Made in the Image and Likeness of God and Discipleship. This was facilitated by C.C. Joseph. These sessions were highly interactive with a lot of question and answer sessions in between. On the last day of the training, Jacob Jose handled the concept of living by faith, gifts and talents and Theology of the Body (relationships and how to keep our body holy).
 
The final day of the program was on introducing Jesus Youth – a missionary movement to the participants. Kevin from the National Campus Ministry spoke to the participants about JY and its six pillars. Sunitha from the Karnataka Campus Ministry spoke about the importance of prayer meetings and fellowship and introduced the various prayer meetings in Bangalore. Fr. Vinoy, pastor of the Bangalore JY Campus Ministry celebrated the final mass and commissioned the volunteers and participants.
 
The most anticipated (by participants and volunteers) part of the program would be the adoration that happened every day. Zacharias Njavallil, Shibu Mammen, Rinu and Liza, Alex, Pascal, Crispin and Sunsun led the adoration and made it a cherished moment for everyone present. Another much awaited event during DTP was celebrating the Holy Eucharist. Fr. Roy, Fr. John Chan, Fr. T.C. George and Fr. Vinoy celebrated Holy Mass for the participants. During the training, we had elders come and help the participants and volunteers in their journey with Christ. Jessy (from the retreat team), Jacob Jose and Sunsun were the elders who made themselves available, realizing the need of the people gathered for DTP. In the words of a participant who went for Personal Sharing with an Elder, “I feel light after Sharing with the Elder. I feel so light for having shared everything that I could fly. Thanks for arranging this Personal Sharing”.
 
Another main highlight of the program was the 24-hour intercession that happened at the venue. Thanks to the program intercession team who took various initiatives to have constant intercession. The intercession team took an initiative to keep a prayer request box in the chapel where both participants and volunteers dropped in their prayer requests. The sister’s of the convent also used this opportunity to share their prayer requests and the people sitting for intercession read every request and interceded for it. A few people even came forward and shared that their request had been answered. One participant had put in a request to pass her engineering exams. She got her results during the DTP and she shared that she had passed with very high marks.
 
The entire DTP was time for miracles and blessings for all the people who were attending the program as participants and volunteers. To list a few, there were a few volunteers who were searching for new jobs and during the program they received calls from various companies and one person even got the offer letter from the dream company. There was a participant who had been a drug addict for past three years. The participant was off drugs during the entire program and after the program too. There were a few volunteers who were experiencing difficulties at workplace. During the program the difficulties were sorted out after a very long time.
 
Indeed the entire DTP was a blessed experience to one and all present at the venue. This wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for the constant support of the Bangalore Service team, under the guidance of John Joseph and Shibu Mammen; and the support of the Karnataka Campus team, through the constant support from Jims and Sunitha. I would also like to thank Rajesh Raphail who helped us find priests to celebrate mass for everyone present at the venue and who made time to interact with the participants and share their experience with one and all present. Volunteers, the backbone of DTP – without them we wouldn’t have been able to conduct the program. I want to specially thank the volunteers who made it a point to come for intercession at night, after finishing a hectic day at work. They would intercede in the night and go back to work the next morning. Truly it was a blessed program where everything was controlled and executed by God. With the help of the Holy Spirit we were able to re-work on the entire program and tailor make it to meet the requirements. The Holy Spirit was a constant source of inspiration, support and guidance to all the volunteers who worked to make this program a grand success. I would take this opportunity to thank God for blessing us abundantly, all through the program.
 
With Love and Prayers in Christ Jesus,
Blesy Paul & Sherry Jess Francis
CrossRoads 2 - General Coordinators