With the desire to announce peace wherever the Church and humanity need it the most, the Shalom Community announces the opening of three new missions: Béjaïa in Algeria, Ferrara Comacchio in Italy and Vitória da Conquista, in Bahia, Brazil. Kléber Marinho, in charge of the Shalom missionary advisory, and Tiago Soares, in charge of the diffusion of the Shalom Charism outside Brazil, talk about how the process of opening a new mission will work for next year.
Evangelizing through friendship in the Diocese of St. Augustine
Béjaïa will be the second Shalom Mission in Algeria, since the first one is located in the capital Algiers. It is part of a very important diocese in the history of the Church, that of Constantine-Hippo (today Annaba), where St. Augustine, bishop and doctor, served God in the 5th century.
The City is the most important in the region with almost 200,000 people and due of its strong industrial development. The region is a destination chosen by many young people who wants to study at the local University. The Community answers a request made by Your Excellency Bishop Nicolas Pierre Jean Lhernould to “develop an intense work of evangelization of the young adults residents of the area”, affirmed Kléber.
Bishop Nicolas got to know the Shalom Community in Tunisia and attended a Shalom Retreat for Priests in 2019, before His ordination as a Bishop. Knowing the activities developed by the Community, “he wanted the missionaries to be a strong presence of friendship, of relationship with the local people, especially with the youth”, reiterated Tiago Soares.
Take a look at the place:
Ferrara Comacchio: a great experience with God’s providence
Shalom expands its presence in Italy with the opening of another Mission, now in the north of the country: Ferrara Comacchio. Known by its beauty and cultural importance, the city is considered a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). It preserves the Renaissance architecture of the 15th century and has more than 130,000 people, of which approximately 30,000 are university students, says Tiago Soares, who was part of the site visits for the discernment of the new foundation.
Tiago also tells us that the story of the foundation of the mission was entirely a gift of divine providence:
“A priest from Ferrara was spending few days in the house of the Life Community in Rome. He is a friend of the secretary of Monsignor Gian Carlo Perego, Bishop of that city. They were precisely looking for a community that could work and live in the Archdiocese of Ferrara, in order to reinforce the evangelization of young people. While Msg Perego was in our house, he informed the Bishop’s secretary about the community by a phone call. Then, the secretary went to Rome to got to know our evangelization activities, especially the SH82 cafe, which enjoyed very much, and decided to present the proposal to the Bishop. Thus began the dialogue between the Bishop and the Community”.
The missionaries will live at St. George’s Convent, patron of the Archdiocese, and their evangelization focus will be the young adults from the local universities. The International Assistant says that many of these young people live in surroundings of the Church, which will help a lot with the Community’s activities.
Vitória da Conquista: Strong expression of the Shalom Charism
The city has more than 300,000 people and is the third largest city in Bahia state, after Salvador and Feira de Santana. The Community has already been present in this place since 2013 through the diffusion of the Work, name given to the cities where there are evangelization activities with Shalom prayer groups, but without the presence of missionaries of the life community.
Kléber affirmed that because of the growth of the Work and the manifestation of a great expression of the Charism in this place, it became a strategic location to send missionaries of the life community to keep the evangelization work in the city.
“Today Shalom Vitória da Conquista has more than 100 people and during these past years there has always been more than 51% of young people in the Shalom Work (prayer groups). We noticed how the Charism is very much alive in the city, with few members of the Covenant Community. The Work already overflows the strength of the charism.This impressed us”.
How does the process of founding a Shalom mission work?
Kléber Marinho explains that this process can happen in several ways, but it will always happen with the consent of the bishop of a certain diocese, who sends his request to the general moderator of the Community.
“The Bishop makes his request, the Community analyzes it and then we start the process of making visits to the city and see if it is really feasible to open a community house in this place. The foundation of a mission can also happen through the growth of a diffusion of the Work, as it happened in Vitória da Conquista. The Charism grows so much in a certain region that the need to carry out the shalom mission arises with the presence of the life community missionaries”.
Today, within the Missionary Assistance, the sector of the Community dedicated to the government of the missions, there is a team dedicated to the foundations, whose work is developed together with members of various sectors of the General Government. “Each member gives his opinion within the specificity of his sector. When a request for a foundation for a specific mission arrives, the commission analyzes it and presents it to the General Council of the Community. Immediately afterwards, a visit to the place is made to see the feasibility of the process, to know the profile of the missionaries that will be sent, among other things. After all these steps, the foundation of a mission is made official”, says Kléber.
Read more: Missionary foundations, bridges to eternity