“Go into all the World and preach the Gospel to the whole Creation…” Mark 16:15.
These very words of Jesus himself which were directed to the Apostles, resounded at the end of the first Holy Mass of the Lenten Mission 2015, in which all 30 missionaries (IVE Novices and SSVM Novices) were sent out with the missionary mandate to preach in the streets of New York City.
The Lenten Mission 2015 was held in St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church, which is one of the many IVE Parishes that is located in the city of New York. The mission began on February 24 with the Missionary Mass at 5:30. In the homily, Fr. Javier Ibarra (IVE Master of Novices) reminded the missionaries of the importance of the Holy Spirit’s guidance in the mission and to pray for the fruits of our mission. At the end of Mass, the missionary crosses were distributed to the missionaries and with that we marked the kick off to the mission!
During those two weeks, the jobs were many, which included a group that did house visit around the neighborhood of the parish; another group was with the older youth of the Catholic School of St. Thomas Aquinas and another group with the younger students of the school and the Oratory in the Evenings.
The house visiting group went out twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. The weather was not so nice with the missionaries, but not even the 4 inches of snow would prevent them from preaching the Gospel through the streets of New York! At the same time, the other two groups went daily to the Catholic School of St. Thomas Aquinas, which gladly welcomed the missionaries into the school. Thanks to the generosity of the principal, Mrs. Teresa M. Sopot and her faculty, the missionaries were able to visit the entire school each day and participate with the children in some of their daily activities. After school, many of the kids joined us for our Oratory which covered most of the afternoon. The youth group reached to about 25 kids and the kid’s oratory had around 40 kids daily.
After house visits and Oratory, both groups united for the daily rosary procession, which if the weather permitted, would be processed outside. After the rosary procession, the kids brought flowers to Mary while the adults stayed in the Church for the Catechetical point presented each day by a different missionary on one of the Ten Commandments. Afterwards, the Holy Mass was presided by Fr. Javier in which the missionary sermon was preached during the homily. As our normal way of ending, after the Holy Mass everyone was invited to participate of our Fogons in which we got to spend time with the people we had encountered during the mission. As a big family, we enjoined a couple of songs followed by skits prepared by the IVE novices and then the night ended with a song to Our Lady.
Something that should be talked about are the last two days of the mission in which the Sacraments were distributed. Through the work of the Holy Spirit in the missionaries, there were Baptisms, Marriages and First Holy Communions. Father Javier reminded us that with all of our prayers and sacrifices, God showed us his Mercy and Love, and gave us a chance to see some of the fruits of the mission. After the closing Mass, on March 5, everyone joined us for the final Fogon and then enjoyed some family time with the religious.
In a very special way we thank Fr Librado Godinez, Pastor of Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish, who invited us to do the mission.
We still continue to thank God for all the fruits of the mission, both seen and unseen, and please pray for the continual fruits of this Lenten Mission 2015. We place all this in the hands of the most perfect missionary of them all: Mary, Queen of all Missionaries.
Br. Jose Sanchez,