“Go and make disciples of all nations…”

(MT. 28:19)

Septiembre 2013 | Leticia Salazar, odn (USA) | Jóvenes

Summer days are coming to an end and we are grateful for the many blessings of the season. It is clear that the richness of the universality of the Company of Mary is a wonderful grace from Our Lord. It is manifested by concrete encounters with sisters and lay people from other regions where the Company is present.

We welcomed Sr. Marcela Bonafede who came for the Diocesan Mission Appeal. Sr. Marcela also made the mission experiences of the Company known by sharing her gift of music in other venues, such as Juvenile Hall in Sylmar, gatherings of friends, supporters and young adults. She also taught two courses at IPM for the Diocese of Or-ange: “The Spirituality of Music” and “The Theology of Accompaniment.”

On August 19th we had the opportunity to gather as co-workers in the vineyard of our Lord. Dr. Sabatino challenged us to name with words unique to our charism, the responses we are called to make in our mission today. Three youths who attended World Youth Day inspired us with the passion of their personal experiences. Our teachers, staffs and administrative teams embraced the service to which they are commissioned, trusting in God’s help and the support of one another. May we have a successful year as we... “Grow together in Christ to make a Difference.”

Our annual retreat this year took on a very creative tone that helped us move into prayer in new ways. Our director was Sister Paula Damiano, a Sister of Providence who serves as director of St. Mary of the Woods Re-treat Center. We thank Sr. Paula for taking time from her many responsibilities and tight schedule to share with us her wisdom and to walk with us as a woman of prayer sharing in the challenges of religious life today. We are grateful for her willingness to be our guide on our prayer journey of retreat and for the intense prepara-tion on her part that led to a truly unique prayer experience for all.

World Youth Day, in the style of Company of Mary: From July 15-29 young people and a team of sisters of the Company of Mary and volunteers from Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Paraguay, Peru and the United States, gathered to share an experience of mission, prayer, and encounter along with another 3.7 million members of the uni-versal Church who united to meet with Pope Francis. We know this has been a life-transforming experience for all.

The great encounter began at the Company of Mary school in Sao Paulo with a welcome celebration by school parents, students, sisters and volunteers. It was something very special that touched us all very deeply. The welcome from our brothers and sisters in Brazil was beautiful, loving and hospitable. They received us with open arms, with joyful music and dances.
The mission of the Company of Mary, as it is lived out in each country, was presented. We then embarked in our own sharing of the mission in Sao Paulo at Cejelo, an alternative education center directed by the Compa-ny of Mary in one of the favelas. It was beautiful, touching, and challenging. After several days we moved on to Rio de Janeiro for a 4 day experience of a silent retreat based on the Spiritual Exercises. The silence was challenging as the rest of Brazil was festively readying itself to welcome Our Holy Father. We soon realized that a deep encounter with the Lord in prayer prepared our hearts for the meeting with Pope Francis that went deeper than a momentary euphoria.
Brazil and WYD have come and gone, but the seeds planted in the hearts of the participants continue to grow and blossom. The cultural plurality challenged us all to go beyond our borders, to accept others and to dedi-cate ourselves with openness and generosity to “go out and make disciples of all nations”. In this manner we can weave together a worldwide quest for the “more” of the mission.

USA California Youth Attend WYD in Brazil

Mónica Tenorio: "I am from North Hollywood. I love to cook, read, travel, listen to music, cruise with my cousins through the streets of Los Angeles, visit and interact with the youth in juvenile hall, hang out with my friends, visit the Sisters of the Company of Mary, and learn more about my faith. I signed up for World Youth Day in Brazil as a result of the experience lived in World Youth Day in Spain two years ago. My experience in Spain was just spectacular because it led to the realization of the de-sire to seek “the more.” My hope is that this trip brings more yearning to my heart in order to continue serving the Lord in others. I looked forward to hand-ing Our Holy Father the letters from the youth at juve-nile hall."

On July 7, volunteers and juveniles incarcerated at Barry J. Nidorf Juvenile Hall in Sylmar blessed some of the youth volunteers who went to Brazil. More than a hundred letters from youth in the three juvenile halls in Los Angeles were blessed as well as Monica Tenorio and Jonathan Medina who would deliver the letters to Pope Francis.

“The youth prayed that their silent voices in prison would also be heard in Brazil: voices of kids who have never even been given a first chance; voices of kids who started using crystal meth when they were nine years old; voices of kids who will spend their whole lives locked up; voices of kids who are afraid of ex-pressing how they know they are going to die in pris-on. World Youth Day: It symbolizes hope for youth who have dreams for the future. If our youth have no dreams, there is no future for anyone. (excerpt taken article by Fr. Mike Kennedy, Tidings, July 19, 2013).

Jonathan Eduardo Molina: "I am from the USA, although my family is from El Salvador. I am a full time student and full time worker studying to become a paramedic. I spend my morning working and at night studying. Dur-ing my free time I practice martial arts and volunteer at Barry Nidorf Juvenile Hall once a week. I signed up for WYD because I like the unity of young Catholics coming together from different parts of the world to show that we are all one in Christ and also because I feel that it helps me grow in my spirituality and it makes me fall more in love with God."

Naomy Medina: "I am from North Hollywood and I live with my mother and two brothers. I work with kids who are autistic and who have other developmental disabilities providing behavior intervention and helping them with adaptive skills, such as social appropriateness and communication. After attending WYD in Madrid two years ago, I believe that it helped me grow spirituality and brought good friends into my life. I was very excited about WYD in Brazil because I was sure it would also bring me great things!"

S r. Marcela Bonafede ,ODN, accompanied Sr. Ernestine Velarde, ODN at Barry Nidorf Juvenile Hall, plays her guitar as a group of res-idents of the facility listen and respond to her songs. Sr. Marcela, from the Province of Cono Sur (Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay, Chile and Brazil), came to share with us the Company of Mary projects in Bra-zil and Argentina. At the same time she invited parishioners to donate money for the good of the youth program and their families. One of the projects is a sports program in Brazil that serves as a safe environment for children. The other project is the Mitre Center in Argentina which was severely damaged by a major flood. Her love of people and love for our ministry in the Company of Mary was clearly evident as she shared her faith though music with the youth in the de-tention center, at Mass in Vina de Lestonnac in Temecula and with the sisters during her visits to the different communities. We miss Sr. Marcela and hope she comes to visit us again soon.
Leticia Salazar: odn, Provincial Superior USA.

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