Shalom Community in New york
The Shalom Catholic Community was invited by Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio from the Diocese of Brooklyn to establish a mission in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Williamsburg is known as a “dead zone of faith” and is one of the areas of the world with the greatest number of millenials.
This first mission of Shalom in New York was founded on October 22, 2020 the day of Saint John Paul II, a saint very dear to this charism of new evangelization. The foundation of this mission has been counting on the life offering of five young missionaries from Brazil, France, Mexico and the US, among them there is a priest who is responsible for the mission, a formator and the pastor of the church.
In a big city such as New York the missionaries feel they are under a similar call as the one of Saint Paul in Rome, as New York is considered the Rome of Saint Paul’s time nowadays.
Saint Francis life is one of the main influencers of Shalom in New York
The mission of Shalom Community in Brooklyn is deeply rooted in the experience of Saint Francis of Assisi. The missionaries were sent to a small church called San Damiano Mission, the same name as the church St. Francis believed God was calling him to rebuild when he first heard the call to “Go and rebuild my church”. Saint Francis is one of the bulwarks of the Community and has a great influence in the consecrated members of Shalom’s lifestyle and evangelization in the city.
Encounter, dialogue, spousal love for Christ, fraternal love, radicality of the gospel, ministering peace, and life of poverty (based on a deep experience of God as a father) are strong characteristics in the life of Saint Francis. The missionaries of Shalom in New York experience these daily in the life of the mission. Most of those who attend San Damiano Mission for prayer group and other activities are catholic, however there are people from different religions such as jewish, muslim, sikh, agnostic, orthodox, protestant and non religious who have been stepping in to have a coffee, go for a hike, talk, and even pray.
In this way, the missionaries expect that their house will become more and more a place of peace and of encounter with a beauty that attracts all through love and mercy.
Evangelizing with simplicity and humility before the “omnipotence” of a city like New York
These words portray weakness and smallness. Are they too paradoxical for a city like New York?
They can be a great contradiction, but Shalom missionaries see them as words of wisdom for their evangelization work. They perceive that people are attracted by what causes splendor. But at the same time, simplicity attracts. It is attractive to see those who have a strong faith living as brothers and sisters, as humble people who give for free what they have received without paying.
In a city where everyone is running, coming across a missionary who is available and has time to not only talk but to listen to you, draws attention. The missionaries see themselves as weak and sinful servants of the Lord, but at the same time, counting on God’s greatness, they feel pushed to try to be more available. To be close to the people of God as friends.
In such a city, it is necessary to be creative. The Holy Spirit is the greatest protagonist in creativity. In this metropolis, everything is organized with so much quality, intensity, and creativity. So all the ideas and the boldness for the evangelization of this city need to come from the Spirit of God. He is the sanctifier, consoler, inflamer, healer for all the troubled hearts.
Shalom Catholic Community in Williamsburg experiences that people are very thirsty for God. Although it’s also a reality that many young adults don’t want to go to church, every time they see the joy of the consecrated young missionaries, they become curious and open themselves for a moment of prayer and sharing.
One common reality in this city is that people are always surrounded by others, but deep inside feel alone. They need community, and many testify suffering with this.
New York a city of all
“Big cities are also multipolar and multicultural. And we have to dialogue with this reality, without fear. It means developing a pastoral dialogue without relativism, which does not negotiate one’s Christian identity, but which seeks to reach the heart of the other, of others different from us, and there to sow the Gospel.” (Pope Francis)
The multiculturality of New York is something that causes a real amazement. The city has everything and everyone. It means you can find many good things, but also many challenging things. Sometimes the missionaries recognize these realities as opportunities for fishing labor. Wherever they throw the net, they testify that the fishes are caught. While playing volleyball, attending language exchange meetings, going to a birthday party, etc. People are not used to seeing missionaries whose joy comes from Christ alone and this also attracts and gives rise to questions.
The ideologies are a big challenge in the evangelization work in New York City. They are usually related to consumerism, relativism, or gender, but the Community feels responsible to lead people to a freedom in belonging to Christ.
Shalom Community is celebrating its first anniversary in the Diocese of Brooklyn. The missionaries keep up their work desiring to fulfill God’s will in and through their lives, with great gratitude to the Lord for all His amazing deeds.
To know more about Shalom Catholic Community in New York contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or instagram @shalomnewyork