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JPIC Missionary Initiative in the Province of the Most Holy Trinity-Chile

Chile, 19th November, 2023 – 21st January, 2024

02 February 2024

As a Franciscan Family we are living in a time of grace, a time in which we are celebrating 800 years of various historical events in the life of our brother St. Francis of Assisi, and which have been the compass of our being in the world. From this event we have accepted the invitation to inhabit the margins of our community to walk and share with those with whom the Gospel confronts us, it is the experience of mission that we have called Mission among the people.

Poverty is not only a social problem; it is also a from a religious perspective, a theological question and therefore a central issue in the Christian message. From a sociological sense, a poor person is a "non-person", an invisible and unentitled, someone who manifests himself/herself in an insignificant way because of various prejudices: from reasons of race, sex, culture or economic status among others. 

Greccio, from the sociological dimension, invites us to do just that, to walk with the marginalized. For this reason, echoing this call, from the JPIC office of our province we proposed to inhabit for a time a space of social vulnerability, in such a way as to be witnesses again of the birth of Jesus in the midst of the simplicity and poverty of a manger. This mission began on Sunday, the 19th November, the day Pope Francis invited us to celebrate the World Day of the Poor. 

That Sunday afternoon we met at the headquarters of the Neighbourhood Council of Poblacion on the 21st November (Municipality of Tuxpan, State of Jalisco); at that time, the population did not have a Board, there was no neighbourhood project, the headquarters was inhabited and cared for by a Haitian mother and her two-year-old daughter, with the commitment to pay for water and electricity and take care of the building. A headquarters in a state of abandonment by the community.

The people welcomed us with affection and joy. From that date on, during the week in the afternoons, we visited each house in the town together with the brothers and the Legion of Mary of our parish of St Francis of Parral, a community that accepted the invitation to carry out the mission amongst the people.

On this walk we had the opportunity to walk through the streets of the town, some families received us with affection, others with a certain indifference, and others rejected us. We were able to talk with Catholics and non-Catholics, since the purpose of the mission was not to proselytize, but to live a pastoral of friendship, based on dialogue and fraternity. 

One of the treasures that emerged from this experience was to learn about the history and identity of the 21st November Population, a population whose beginnings were forged through struggle, sacrifice, effort and hope for a better life, in a difficult and dark period of our recent history. 

It is a population of humble, simple and hardworking people who, like many throughout the country, have not been exempt from discriminatory stigmatization by some sectors of the city, there are many brothers and sisters in the population who live and suffer the scourge of alcoholism or drug addiction. However, there are also boys and girls who grow up and become young professionals who work and make a real contribution to society. It is in this place where God has placed his hand to take care of each family, each brother and sister, and where they are also invited to be a community capable of co-constructing their own destiny.

This mission ended on Sunday, the 21st January 2024, the Sunday of the Word of God, in which we celebrate God's loving presence and the gift of life through the Eucharist. The mission amongst the people was an opportunity wherein the celebration of the Franciscan Centenaries allowed us to go and meet the others, who are different and also stigmatized by the community. It was an opportunity to learn how the identity of a collective also arises from its history. It was also an opportunity to leave the comfort of the friary and share with others, making the pastoral care of friendship a space of God and for God. 

Br Julio Campos, OFM
JPIC Provincial Animator, Province of the Most Holy Trinity, Chile

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