HOLY WEEK AT THE AMAZON : AN EXPERIENCE OF MISSION
Written by: Brother Adán Gómez Martínez Capuchin.
In the year 2000 I went out for the Holy Week missions for the first time, I still remember the place where we were doing the mission… Pueblo Nuevo Cadereyta Nuevo León Mexico. A very beautiful experience which I keep in my memory with great joy. I was on a missionary group called Nabi of the Jesús el Buen Pastor Parish. I liked the experience so much that I came to question myself: “Why do I have to wait once a year to do a mission?… What would my life be like if it were a constant mission?” Since then, every year during Holy Week I have attended missions. Obviously each mission is very different and in each of them I have had to change my schemes of how to live the mission. Thanks to this, each experience has been very enriching for me. It is already 22 consecutive years in which I live the mission experience during Holy Week.
I want through this writing to share with you my most recent mission experience that took place in the Ticuna indigenous reserve of Nazareth, the parish that is located there is called Holy Family of Nazareth. Honestly, it was a very beautiful experience, I felt very comfortable with the community: the activities we carried out, the response they had for the trades, were elements that made this mission something significant for me, however, there were also some challenges, but they are also part of the experience and helped me to grow and learn. I want to share them. First of all, one of the situations that I consider a challenge was that , the only missionary who did not belong to the community was me. In other words, the missionaries who were part of the organizing team are from the same parish where we were doing the mission. In my past experiences I usually went with the youth group, we already had a mission plan in advance but not this time. Being alone also presented a challenge since in my case when I entered the order two friars went to the same place or they were communities in which we had already supported. On this occasion it meant a challenge for me to be alone without knowing the people and above all, most of them spoke Ticuna and some Spanish. This helped me to appreciate the importance of the Franciscan fraternity. The Capuchin Franciscan mission is a mission that is carried out in fraternity. I also had to break with some of my ideas regarding the role of being a missionary. This is because in my past experiences the missionary is the one who brings the good news, provides the teachings, organizes etc. However, here the community had a lot of initiative and organized based on what they knew. Yes…sometimes they asked me some things regarding the liturgy, some things about catechesis, explanation of the celebrations… but they knew how to organize the activities, I only accompanied and presided over the celebrations. I had to adapt to the rhythm of the community, its culture, its way of living the faith, among other things. The truth was something that was difficult for me at first, but it was very enriching to talk with them in order to reach the middle point together where we agreed and to be able to combine culture with the experience of faith. I had an idea and had learned a way to live the faith; this thanks to my training that I had received both in my family, as well as in the seminary and in the order; Regarding the mission, my past experiences also influenced the way I lived Holy Week as a missionary, but I realized that this was not going to work for me this time. Complemented to what I mentioned earlier regarding the things or situations that I learned, I add that I had to mold myself to a new reality where time is governed in a very different way, the rhythm of life is very different from what I was used to and I was able to understand it. Realizing this helped me empathize with the community, it made it easier for me to experience the mission and carry out the Holy Week services.
In short, I could say that I contributed something for them and they became rich; and they gave me something and I got rich. I am very grateful for this. Also something that I want to share with you and that I value a lot from the community is how people were present at the Holy Week services. On Palm Sunday it was raining and a considerable number of people attended the procession. For the other celebrations of the Holy Week, attendance was also considered. I am very happy about that because some missionaries spoke that in other communities the rain was an impediment for people to attend, or very few people congregated, but not in this case.
To conclude, I would like to share with you that during the time I was in the community of Nazareth I gave myself the time and the opportunity to reflect on many things from which I conclude: I thank God for the call that he has given to me and the gift of being a missionary and have this opportunity to live the mission in the community of Nazareth. I thank my parents for giving me the value of keeping and attending the celebrations of these holy days; to respect and give them the importance that is due as a Catholic. I thank my Capuchin brothers for the time of formation, for all the learning that I have acquired from them. Thank you for teaching me to be a Capuchin and facilitating this missionary experience in the Colombian Amazon.
Brother Adán Gómez Martínez Capuchin.