1300 Young Volunteers Journey Across Chile, Building and Evangelizing
A message of peace and hope is what volunteers from Capilla País, Viviendas, Misión País, Siembra UC, and Coro Misión País shared with families and communities visited, from Alto Hospicio to Chiloé. For the first time, three students from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú participated.
"Go without fear, bear witness, announce who you are and why you do it. Go, faith is a flame that becomes more alive the more it is shared; bear witness to that faith. It is a mandate that the Lord entrusts to the entire Church, to each of you, to you, to me," encouraged Bishop Alberto Lorenzelli, auxiliary bishop of Santiago of Chile, addressing the 1,300 students – university students from UC Chile and other institutions, as well as high school students in III° and IV° grade – who were deployed across 48 locations in Chile, from Alto Hospicio in the north to the large island of Chiloé in the south, between January 3 and 12.
Between these dates, they met people, families, and communities with the joy of sharing the message of hope in Christ and of a Church that is alive, joyful, and young.
"It is a great spectacle to see the variety of colors, but above all, it is moving to see a quantity of young people who want to commit, to make their own time, their own life, available to travel a path that will surely enrich them. (...) Feel the company of the entire Church, of our Archdiocese, of the University, your professors, those who accompany you," added the auxiliary bishop.
With enthusiasm and eagerness, backpacks, bags, materials, and construction tools, volunteers from Misión País, Capilla País, Siembra UC, Viviendas, and Coro Misión País, initiatives of the Campus Ministry of UC Chile, arrived at the San Joaquín UC Chile campus to go out together to meet others. From there, after the Sending Mass and before traveling by bus to the locations where they carried out their mission, they listened, among others, to the words of President Ignacio Sánchez.
"I congratulate you and thank you for your commitment, generosity, joy, and camaraderie; it is an immense joy to accompany you. I would like, on this journey, in these days of missions and works, for you to ask yourselves two questions: what do I bring – apart from the material – to the communities with which you are going to share, and what do I want to bring to grow in faith, from that experience, to be able to grow in faith, to be able to grow as a person, and to be able to 'give' in the places where you work," said the UC Chile president.
Mission without Borders
UC Chile, the Universidad Católica Boliviana San Pablo, and the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú are subscribed to the Interinstitutional Cooperation Agreement in which the will to develop and promote a Joint Academic Research Program called "Artisans of Unity" is established. The objective is to advance collectively in scientific, cultural, economic, and social cooperation.
In this version of missions and works, three students from Peru participated, as there was pastoral work with guidelines on migration and collaboration between neighboring countries. Specifically, they were in Alto Hospicio, accompanying the volunteers of Misión País and Capilla País.
Ángela Parra, director of Campus Ministry, explained that they mobilized these volunteers so that they could do a job, through the construction of a new chapel for this area, they could also evangelize and thus do international work with volunteers from Chile and Peru, in this case, addressing issues such as migration from a pastoral point of view.
She also emphasized that "the idea is that this missionary exchange continues, I think it is always important for us that they come to see us, that they come to visit us, but it is also very important to go out, to know other realities. I believe that it is very important to make this alliance promote dialogue and interculturality, but above all tolerance and respect."
Each project is coordinated by a voluntary team of UC Chile students who, for a year, take charge of leading the initiatives, finalizing the details to ensure they are carried out correctly. They also provide guidelines regarding the spirit that mobilizes each group of volunteers.
Under the slogan "Let's build a Church for everyone to meet," Capilla País went to meet 10 communities in Chile, from the region of Tarapacá to Los Lagos, where chapels will be built and rebuilt, in addition to sharing an experience of meeting with the visited communities.
Misión País is a student project that, from its missionary identity, seeks to respond to the needs of the Chilean Church by providing assistance to all dioceses in the country, hand in hand with the Virgin of Carmen, its patron and missionary model. On this occasion, they accompanied, listened to, and shared with people from 16 areas between the region of Tarapacá and Los Lagos.
"Let us learn to see problems as opportunities. Tired people on the subway, a discouraged friend, a brother in sorrow... so many situations that – at first glance – seem commonplace, but in the face of them, we have two options: face them as problems or as opportunities that drive us to act and get involved. It is in those instances, in loneliness, hopelessness, and abandonment, where Christ seeks to have a space and be an answer," says Agustín Kast, general coordinator of Misión País.
María Paz Mackenna, also general coordinator of the project, added that "this is Misión País: reaching the corners of Chile where people seek something beyond, where people are thirsty, in the Metro, the hospital, the prison, the countryside, the north, the south... and bringing Christ as that water that quenches thirst, as that answer to restlessness. That's what we do, we work for the Soul of Chile."
Siembra UC is an initiative that seeks to integrate school and university volunteers to work together for Chile and its Church, generating a space for encounter and service to God and neighbor. Between January 3 and 12, they will be deployed in 14 locations, between the Coquimbo and Los Lagos regions.
Viviendas, on the other hand, is a project of Christian initiation that mobilizes university students to contribute to solving the housing deficit in Chile. They will be building eight houses in Paine.
His co-coordinator, Alicia García de la Huerta, took the opportunity to thank each of the volunteers for their commitment. "We want to thank everyone for being here, for choosing to be at the service of others. We hope you all have an experience of much growth, friendship, and getting to know God a little more."
"Make yourself a song, Christ, and ignite hearts" is the motto with which the Coro Misión País sought to evangelize, being an instrument for Christ to reach the hearts of all people, through music and singing. They had itinerant areas, touring the different communities visited by the other projects.
With these projects, the goal is to bear witness to faith, build community spaces and chapels, with a focus on seeking encounter and dialogue, aiming to build a better and fairer Chile.
The volunteers returned to Santiago on January 12 to conclude this time of dedication, prayer, encounter, and dialogue.