October was proclaimed by Pope Francis an Extraordinary Missionary Month. Specifically, to mark this time, the Archdiocese of Kaunas, Lithuania, has proposed our Redemptorist confreres the preparation of a missionary event.
It was during this weekend that we met our mission in one of the three Baltic countries. The Redemptorist presence in Lithuania has begun about a year ago with our two confreres from Slovakia: Rastislav Dluhý and Peter Hertel, who give their heart and soul to make it work. They are happy with the fruits this mission has produced so far. Although they haven’t been there for long, they feel they are already reaching out to people whom the local church is not always able to reach. They focus on the explicit proclamation of the Gospel and the people of the city are hungry for this Good News. For this reason, right from the start, they made clear that they did not want to be in charge of a parish, so that their availability and priority are fully concentrated in addressing the real missionary needs.
We talked about some of these things in the nice apartment they live in and also in a neighbouring bar drinking local beer. The heart is set on the mission, which is why the mouth speaks of it. But during the days we were there, many more faces joined in because of the Mission.
For the organisation of the whole event there was a big team working and thinking about all the details. Vaida, Renáta and Jovita, who live in the city and have been tireless all the time, are a living testimony of dedication and missionary zeal. But so is our Scottish confrere Ronald McAinsh who was the main preacher during the mission. Or Terl and Tom who came from England with their drums to announce a God with rhythm, a God with music, a God with beauty. Or Františec, Marián and Tomáš, from Slovakia, who have built a sculpture in front of the Kaunas Cathedral, during these three days. Or, of course, our confreres Rastislav and Peter who have been thinking, organising and leading all the moments offered to people.
This great team was in itself a testimony of all the possibilities that can be enhanced when one works together and combines different views and gifts. During these days, we were company and we were also companions. So there were many tables shared day after day: from the prayer table where we all praised each morning, to the various meal tables that recharged energies and nurtured the fraternity. But, of course, always putting at the centre of it all the table of celebration, place of arrival and starting over every evening.
Coming from different countries, with different backgrounds, experiences and interests… Everything was pooled together by the Mission. During these days, we have seen people with different languages and different mother tongues searching for harmony, without losing identity! We have seen different tables, those that the apostle Paul suggests in his letters. We were present in missionary conversations that happen between people who want to become truly disciples of Jesus. We have seen a city awakening to a missionary commitment to which all Christians are called for.
Baptized and sent! All of us!
We’ll see you around,
Zé ku Teresa