Beyond All  Borders – Stories of a young missionary in the Philippines

Thais is a Shalom Life Community missionary that has been in the Philippines for almost year. Here she shares with us what it is described for her as the “most meaningful experience” of the last months.


Firstly I’m happy to say that I live in Manila, the Philippines!!! I have been a missionary in the Shalom Catholic Community since 2013. The Community asked me and others to start a mission here. It’s more fun in the Philippines indeed, like they say in the country’s motto for tourism! We came here in September 2017, right after the Shalom Convention celebrated the Community’s 35th year anniversary.

As soon as we arrived we began to experience so many things that were different from our reality in Brazil. None of us had ever lived in another country so from the outset we really have had to cross borders daily to find out that the differences among us can be overcome through love! Love is really the answer to everything! In these almost 10 months, we have had the opportunity to actually “fall in love” with the country and also with the whole continent. But our most meaningful experience occurred when we attended the Focolare Movement’s GenFest 2018 that was held here in Manila.

 Focolare Movement’s GenFest 2018

It was the first time this event took place in Asia. The Focolare Movement was born in Europe, in Italy to be exact, and all past editions have been held on the European Continent. The Movement began during the Second World War and its mission has been to promote unity among people from all countries. During this year’s GenFest, people were invited to “Go Beyond All Borders”. There were breathtaking dance shows and concerts, stories which told about changing your “square-metre” and workshops with more than 150 different themes. The aim of all of these was to inspire the youth to build a better and more united world.

We from the Shalom Catholic Community served as the press team, helping out friends to get stories about people that came and this gave us the opportunity to meet people from many countries, just like in the World Youth Days. We could live the experience of facing the differences without fear, and with an eagerness to learn more about how to love. It was amazing to see so many young people coming together from 99 countries with one purpose only: To build a more united world! In every way it was really inspiring, gave us more strength to continue on living our mission and made us proud of being able, by the grace of God, to cross the border of the comfort of living in our own country, to face this adventure of living abroad. And in Asia!

A special experience that I had was talking to some girls from Ruanda who live in Belgium. It happened right after the World Cup match in which Brazil was defeated so they teased me a little about that. But when I told them I was a missionary from a religious community that is in more than 30 countries, they invited me to Belgium to work with refugees! A reality that, at first, was so far from mine but then touched me a lot and made me want even more to give my life to enable everyone to have the opportunity to feel the love of God in some way in their lives, no matter what they have been through.

On the last day of the event, Cardinal Tagle celebrated the Holy Mass with many bishops and priests. His homily used the theme of GenFest 2018 to explain the liturgy of the day and he told us, for example, how Jesus, even being “at home” had borders, a place you think wouldn’t have them. The Cardinal also said that “we need not just words, but we need “testimonies” so he sent everyone to the mission after the event. In the last minutes of the event, it was announced that the next GenFest in 2024 is going to be held in Brazil! Every Brazilian present became very excited and screamed a lot. To live those 3 days was really inspiring for me and I really think that it was for all of the more than 6 thousand people that attended the event. Let’s go BEYOND ALL BORDERS to love everyone just as Jesus did!

Beyond All  Borders - Stories of a young missionary in the Philippines


Thais Montenegro (Tess), 25 years –  @shalominManila


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