I’m Thiago Mesquita de Sousa, I’m missionary of the Shalom Catholic Community since 2011, as Covenant Community. I’m from Fortaleza – Brazil and I’m currently in mission in Santiago, Chile, as Life Community. I came to spend a few months in the Archdiocese of Liverpool, in England, at the invitation of a friend and with the proper consent of the community.
Since my first contact I had with the Shalom Community, in 2007, I felt attracted to the Shalom lifestyle. In this first experience, I soon discovered that I wished to belong entirely to God. Over the years, this certainty has not changed. And do you know what is amazing? That is still a desire that only increases.
I honestly thought that it would arrive a day in which I could say: “Well done! It’s all what I can experiment to the Shalom Charisma.” Impossible, because God doesn’t limits Himself. Neither the charisma. It’s an experience of evermore: more love, more mercyful, more donation.
Living abroad, being in quite different places from what I was used to, I have experienced more deeply that the Shalom Charisma is alive and spreads like fire in flame. In Santiago – Chile, I see young people, men and women being attracted to the same evangelical radicality of the former. In this cosmopolitan city, where the evangelization has been such increasingly hard, where the announcement of Jesus is becoming a joke for the youth, I see the grace of people who are attracted by the novelty of the Shalom charisma. Young that seek the spiritual direction and what to learn how to pray, to hear God and to do the will of God in their lives, as Pope Francis have remembered us. I would have many reasons to say the graces are greater than challenges ever.
In the Archdiocese of Liverpool, although there isn’t officially the presence of the Community yet, I see the charisma wants to spread itself. How can something immaterial, like a charisma, want to spread, Thiago? Yes. You should understand that a charisma is a grace. It’s like a new being that is fertilized. It takes up spaces within the womb, taking shape with all vitality.
As soon as I arrived in England, I was invited to give my personal testimony on the feast day of St. Peter and St. Paul to over 1,300 people, including professors, officials and head-chairs from one of the greatest Catholic schools in Wigan Town, as well as giving a missionary testimony to two local magazines, one of them being the magazine of the Archdiocese of Liverpool.
As the first community member in this Archdiocese, I have never made a human effort, if you understand me, to evangelize. In fact, Shalom evangelization is in the power of the Spirit, as our Writings say. This means that where there is a person who carries this charism, the Spirit acts with a force of attraction, with a power that does not come from us.
Listening to a Shalom Community missionary who lives a life of poverty, chastity and obedience; who lives in community and has offered everything to God, people’s reaction is curious: Really? Oh my God! A missionary that left everything to follow God? And then they think of the first thing that comes to mind: Are you a priest? And we had a good laugh together! The time has come to explain a little about our Shalom vocation. And so the conversation carries on and on in a very relaxed, dynamic and even funny way! This is the explicit announcement of the Risen Jesus. And this is a current grace that hasn’t been there in the past and we will not fail to announce it, because it is a grace.
I’m some 4,500 from my hometown witnessing the same grace and would travel the ends of the earth if needed. I experience the communicative force of the Shalom charisma and I’m deeply renewed in the joy of offering everything. It’s true, the graces remain greater than the challenges in missionary life!
Thiago Mesquita de Sousa
Member of the Shalom Convenant Community