An Army of Lay Missionaries to Evangelize Rural Communities in Mexico

Also Promotes Development of Primarily Indian Populations

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MEXICO CITY, MARCH 19, 2002 ( Fifty thousand young people of the group Missionary Youth and Family will spend their Holy Week vacation in popular missions to rural and Indian communities of Mexico.

The “mega mission,” as it is known, takes place March 23-31 and begins with Masses in six regions of Mexico. The biggest will be at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, presided over by Archbishop Giuseppe Bertello, apostolic nuncio in Mexico.

Seven thousand of these missionaries will dedicate the week to evangelization of families. Most of the evangelizers are youths or catechists of rural communities.

They have made themselves available to parish priests and bishops to be sent to the most neglected areas of the country, as a way of completing their personal Lenten journey.

Missionary Youth and Family, an association that also organizes missions in Brazil, Chile, Venezuela, El Salvador, Spain, Italy, and the United States, numbers 88,800 youths and 7,600 families, and has trained 45,000 catechists and 600 native missionaries, especially in Latin American Indian communities.

The association started in 1993 in response to John Paul II´s appeal to young people at World Youth Day to go out into the streets and become missionaries.

The missionaries wear a distinctive cross on their chest. They visit homes, taking Bibles, catechisms, liturgical guides and holy cards, among other items. They also offer catechism classes to children, youths and adults, and lead liturgical celebrations.

Native missionaries in the Indian communities are specially trained so that the experience is not reduced to a simple week of missionary work. The missions also focus on the integral development of the communities. For example, since 1996, when the first medical mission took place in the state of Michoacan, doctors of Missionary Youth and Family offered more than 34,000 medical consultations and more than 300 operations free.

The missionaries have also been active in Cuba, Colombia, Argentina, Ireland, Germany, France, Poland and Hungary. To date, they have visited more than 7,000 localities and 5 million homes.

More information is available at the Spanish-language site

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