Monday, 30 June 2008

International Eucharistic Congress: "mission activities"

Zero writes:

"You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone" (James 2:24).

The Eucharistic Congress also included "mission activities" in and around Quebec City. Following the morning catechesis, people interested in doing these activities attended a separate Mass in another "chapel" - mission work usually started from 1 pm and this Mass was shorter as there was no music.

On the first day, only about 60 people attended Mass and of these only a few were to be involved in the mission activities. The priest likened the few in number to how it must have been when St Paul started out. Over the week Mass attendance increased to over 200 although, again, most just stayed for Mass.

Activities included visiting a home for deaf people, a home for the elderly, the handicapped at a L'Arche community, preparing meals for the homeless and at a home for recovering alcoholics, and street evangelisation.

With several others I twice visited a unit that provides meals for immigrant families and teaches them skills to enable them to find jobs. Our "mission" was to peel vast amounts of vegetables - it's surprising how many you can get through while getting to know your fellow workers! I didn't give up on the onion peeling despite the fact I cried throughout!

Another day we cleaned at the home for recovering alcoholics and were shown round La Maison Mere Mallet where three elderly nuns (oldest age 85 years), with the help of volunteers, provide daily meals for the homeless.

The street evangelisation seemed to have been pre-organised by the youth group.

Unfortunately, only one of the volunteers leading us spoke English well and two others a little, and my French is pathetic. As most of Quebec is mainly French speaking I felt what I could volunteer for was limited. Also on some days there were more people willing to do the mission than places for them to go - only so many could go to each place. These activities must be difficult to arrange as there are health and safety and hygiene issues to be considered and, for example, people providing meals for the homeless need to know in advance they ahve enough workers to actually make the meal! They couldn't just rely on mission workers.

I was told the Congress had found it difficult to get enough volunteers which is a pity as possibly more could have then been done. However, all the volunteers I came into contact with couldn't have been more friendly and helpful and I'm glad to have taken part.

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