One of the unexpected gifts of mission is the chance to celebrate Liturgies of the Word. It’s a privilege to be part of a pastoral team that proclaims the Gospel and invites people to Communion. I’m grateful to our priest and to all who show up each week, thirsting for the Word and the presence of Christ. They are signs of hope and change.
Our parish has many small chapels and six mission stations. In the past, catechists gathered the villagers on Sundays to pray the rosary or to reflect on the Gospel. Only a few places had Liturgies and Mass was a rare event. All of this changed during Lent in 2011, when Fr. Albino Marquez lamented the situation our parishioners faced in rural areas. He formed a pastoral team, including Sisters and a seminarian, to unite the parish through Sunday Liturgies of the Word.
It was daunting to face an entire assembly for the first time, but the Spirit led me through it. As I gained more experience leading the Liturgies, they became more natural and spontaneous. The rhythm and prayers of the Liturgy became a part of my being and I felt a greater reverence for the people and the ministry of the Word.
On days when I’m assigned to a chapel, I leave home after the Mass. Sometimes I drive for 40 minutes or an hour through rain, dust or construction zones. In places where the roads or rivers are hard for me to go alone, I get a ride by motorbike. I love to feel the breeze as we drive by rice fields, pine groves and riverbeds. Often the people prepare coffee or lunch, giving me another opportunity to share in their hospitality. It’s always a grace-filled chance to encounter Christ in his Body, the people.