Sharing about our mission in Vilar de Andorinho - Portugal

The Gaia community - Networking

- We are aware that we have been, and are, sent to proclaim the Good News of the Reign here where we are. 
 
- We can look at our mission from various aspects and perspectives, but to us it seems important to share some of the facets or forms of being a sign together and with this people. 
 
- One of the ways of being and participating, in a network, was proposed by some organisations that are working for the good of the people here. In particular by the Freguesia Council which, once a month, brings together in its centre all the representatives of the social partners of the area. These include: social workers from the various organisations, school teachers, representatives of the Public Security Police who patrol and assure the security of the children, old people and women who are subjected to ill-treatment within the family. There are also psychologists, a delegate from the Freguesia Council who works in Social Action, a member of the Municipal Council, a representative of the support group for immigrants and various persons attached to various and working with the youth, children and old people of this area. One of us represents the Little Sisters of the Assumption in this body. 
 
At the meetings she raises the problems, needs and difficulties of the families and persons with whom we are in contact and with whom we work. 
These meetings and contacts are enriching for us, for the families and for the group because we give and receive from one another. At the meetings we learn what each institution is doing, what the people’s real needs are and how we might respond. 
We often ask for help from the official bodies and this is usually granted; also, they ask us that, through our action with people, in our home visits, we would see at first hand what the needs are and what would be appropriate in each case. 
This leads us to know more families, to accompany and share with others ’the joys and sorrows’ of so many persons who are living in our area, Vila D’Este, where we live. 
 
There is also our presence in the Santos Silva hospital, one of us as a Spiritual Assistant and another as a volunteer with the Chaplaincy. This gives us the opportunity to network with many persons: from the patients and their families to the health professionals. Our links and work with the Health Ministry group is a help to us in this domain, over and beyond the joy, the sharing and the friendship that unite us. 
We feel very happy to be able to carry out our mission with so many laywomen, and some laymen, who are sharing their life with those who are most in need. 
Sr. M. Adelaide 
 
– “The Frágeis Pilgrimage”
The parish Health Ministry team which we set up a year after our arrival here has at present 30 collaborators. They make domiciliary and hospital visits and every year they organise the Day for the Patients. 
This year we were invited to share our experience at diocesan level and to join the commission preparing the diocesan pilgrimage for the Greater Porto area. 
When it came to choosing the place, I thought of the possibility of having it in the Sports Stadium of our town, this with a view to improving the opinion people have of this place where we live because it is also a worthy place with many good people capable of coming together for a noble cause – the meeting of 2,500 invalids with the presence of our Bishop. 
The many meetings, for giving out information and for helping the project along was facilitated by networking which helped to create communion and gave recognition to those who, according to their abilities, have always something to offer. 
 
The celebration took place during the afternoon of Pentecost Sunday, ending with this hymn of consecration to Our Lady: 
 
“My Lady and my Mother, 
I consecrate myself wholly to you. 
Be my Mother and I am yours, 
My heart belongs to you. 
Mother of Jesus, I consecrate myself 
to your love which conquers all. 
Mother of Jesus, I consecrate myself 
to your love which conquers all. 
 
Many tears of emotion and entreaty ran down the faces of the invalids, and of the mothers of so many children in wheelchairs, those whom we love greatly, just as God, who "Father and Mother", certainly does too. 
 
- Inauguration of the Church of the Holy Family 
 
“Man/women dreams, God wishes it, the work is born" (Antero de Quental) 
For a long time, that is, from 1986, the date our area began to take shape with barely 30 or 40 families, two ladies who lived here one of whom, Dona Ricardina, has a sister who is a Combonian, and the other, Dona Ana Bandeira, a catechist, were thinking "something religious is needed here". 
With the help of Fr Floro, parish priest at the time, there was the celebration of the Eucharist in a garage on Palm Sunday of that year, with what they had, and the participation of 20 Christians. Going from one temporary premises to another, the Christian community was increasing. The catechesis, which had begun in the home of the two catechists, continued with an increasing number of children! When they obtained the present premises they organised several rooms for catechesis and a large multi-purpose room where Mass was celebrated for 20 years – it was our church. 
But there was always the dream of a large and worthy space since Vila d’Este deserved something much better! And it was during this international year of the Family, after the great efforts of many persons, including our parish priest, that we have a new church seating 500 persons, a place to welcome all the people who are disposed to follow Jesus, to welcome his Word, to share something with their brothers and sisters and to build up fraternity and communion, within a population that now numbers 17,000. 
 
A thirty-year gestation for a work that is now finished! A difficult birth after a gestation that was much longer than desired. But, after the pains of childbirth there is now the joy of a work that has been born. 
Blessed are all those who believed. Blessed are those who collaborated and who are continuing to collaborate. 
 
May the community to grow, both inside and outside this sacred space, and to celebrate its faith in the One who is risen and brings us together around Him. The consecration and dedication took place on the 22nd of April in a wonderful atmosphere of celebration and joy. This church is in our street, in fact, in front of our apartment; what a joy for us who have "the Family" as the priority of our charism. The big stained-glass window we can see represents the "Flight into Egypt", reminding us that we are all migrants on our earth. On the façade of the presbytery there is a representation of the Ascension of the Lord beside the silhouette of an empty Cross, in which the shadow of Christ invites us to follow him. 
After the entry, the dedication of the Church of the Holy Family became a reality when a couple from the community presented the Prelate with the key of the church in a gesture filled with symbolism. 
 
Sr. Natália
26/07/2012
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