Shalom

The living face of Christ that Francis saw in the poor

The history of the Shalom Charism and the poor dates back to the time of its founding. The invitation to love God, “the Love that is not loved”, the eternal cry of the bastion of the shalom vocation, Saint Francis of Assisi, was answered by going to meet the poor and the young since the dawn of the Charism.

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In response to the invitation made to the whole Church by Pope Francis, on the World Day of the Poor, the Shalom Catholic Community, in all its missions, dedicated itself in a particular way to living, caring for and assisting the poorest brothers and sisters as whole.

The poor you will always have with you

The story of the Shalom Charism and the poor goes all the way back to the time of the community’s foundation. The invitation to “Love the Love”, the eternal cry of the bastion of the vocation, St. Francis of Assisi, was answered by looking out for the poor and young people since the dawn of the charism.

Over the years, the specific call in relation to the poor has become clearer and answered through various initiatives such as the Project “Return Israel”, dedicated to the recovery of people in situations of chemical dependency, the “St.Francis B&B”, dedicated to hosting the homeless.

Today, there are countless initiatives with the poorest of our society in mind. The projects multiplied, and the hosting structures too. And the seed of what sprang up in the first years of the vocation is revealed today with all its force: the young and the poor. With young people we go to the poor, and the poor lead us to young people and with their particular thirst for love and radicalism.

Young people and the poor

Deeply associated in our history, these two targets are privileged of all the commitment and work of the Shalom Community, and could not be dissociated with this V World Day of the Poor. For this reason, the Youth Shalom Congress took place in several missions from November 12th to 14th, which includes in its program moments dedicated to preaching, prayer and meeting the poor in the city’s streets.

Rome Mission

In the mission in Rome (Italy), the St. Lorenzo Youth Center, a place dedicated to welcoming young people from all over the world into the heart of the Church, on World Day of the Poor became the place of the so-called “Meeting among friends”. The purpose of the event was to mediate the meeting between young people and the poor through prayer, fellowship and shared meals.

“Yesterday we, as the Shalom Catholic Community in Rome, organized an event with the homeless and the poor. I had the opportunity to talk, pray and have a coffee with some of them and I was very surprised by their stories, their knowledge and their openness. Life situations may have led them to live “this life,” but they will never lose their dignity as children of God, made in his image”. Maria Abu Nassar

World Day of the Poor in Assisi

“An unforgettable day. November 12, 2021 will be marked by unique encounters.” Says Marden Vinícius de Souza, missionary of the Shalom Catholic Community, who participated in the World Day of the Poor in Assisi with Pope Francis accompanying a French group, from the diocese of Fréjus-Toulon, adds, “I was able to experience the blessedness of the poor at heart . Yes, what a joy to be able to live with people who so often unfortunately go unnoticed in our daily lives!”

Staying at the same hotel, I was able to share with these poor people moments of coexistence, meals, walks. It was the opportunity to sow seeds of new friendships.

Here I am thinking of that Portuguese lady who compared the streets to a school and poverty to a teacher. Her greatest desire is not money but is to simply be heard and loved as she is.

How to not recall the man who had great culture, knowledgeable about art and botany, but who needs help with simple activities such as taking a bath or shaving.

In the poor there is always a mark of Christ. We just need to be aware and we can see Him.

Sucre (Bolivia) Mission 

The Sucre mission has prepared with great care and zeal your journey with the poor. The Agape neighborhood, La Jastambo area located on the outskirts of the city of Sucre, which already receives regular visits and support from the missionaries, but in the WDP, in addition to the delivery of clothes and food, they had a strong moment of brotherhood through prayer and meals together.

A special moment was visiting the houses in the neighborhood marked by so many meetings and sharing, “a moment that left a deep impression on me, on arriving at the first house we found an elderly woman in a wheelchair with two adult children. We had a moment of prayer together and at the end that lady looked at me as deeply as if she reached my soul. I saw in her face and in her eyes the face of Christ, I felt visited by Him who was waiting for me in the poor ”

Lubango Mission (Angola)

World Day of the Poor marked the beginning of the consolidation of the Shalom Friends of the Poor Project in the Archdiocese of Lubango. With joy the missionaries witnessed the action of divine providence: doctors embraced the proposal of the project and the arrival of food and clothing donations provided the conditions for the action.

The number of people reached is estimated at 200 participants, including children and the elderly. After the Eucharistic celebration, medical consultations began, with the application of tests for malaria and HIV, in addition to the support of a small pharmacy.

Haircuts were also offered, as well as recreational activities for children, whose families received food baskets.

Lugano Mission (Switzerland)

In order to help the mission in Madagascar, the Shalom mission in Switzerland held a charity dinner at World Day of the Poor. The fundraising was destined to the Joseph of Egypt Project in the city of Antsiranana, where the Shalom Community has been present since 2007 providing assistance to people in vulnerable situations in the village of Diego.

According to Magnaura Lima, a missionary from the Shalom Community who lives in Madagascar, around 90 children participate, from Monday to Friday, in educational activities that involve literacy, recreation, hygiene and nutritious food. The Joseph of Egypt Project prioritizes the human and spiritual development of children at risk.

5th World Day of the Poor 

From the many encounters with the poor, the experience of Christ was renewed in the hearts of all involved. It was a question of letting ourselves be evangelized by them, who, as Pope Francis said: “The poor, always and everywhere, evangelize us, because they enable us to discover in new ways the true face of the Father”.


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