We also visited the elderly and home bound of a local parish to meet them and bring them the sacraments (Communion, Reconciliation, Anointing of the Sick). It was a great experience walking through the streets of the neighborhoods meeting people and listening to the stories of both joys and struggles of some of the people we visited. It was awe-inspiring to see their example of lived faith in Jesus and their radiating joy despite not even being able to get out of bed and being in constant pain. Everyone we visited was always ready to welcome us and make us feel welcome.
We visited two orphanages as well to meet the children there and the sisters who care for them. At one of the orphanages, the kids put on a small Christmas play for us, and we also put on a (silly) Christmas play for them. At the other orphanage, we danced around and had a fun time with the girls there. Both experiences allowed us to meet these often-forgotten children of Granada and gave us an experience of spiritual fatherhood, allowing us to love these girls who probably didn’t have the best male role models.
The Acompaño experience was a great mission that provided a conducive environment for us to learn the true meaning of being a missionary. The name of the mission program (Acompaño is Spanish for “I accompany”) seems to embody the spirit of mission perfectly. Our experiences taught us that “mission” is just meeting the other person, walking with them in their journey of faith, and being open to truly encountering them. We don’t go on mission trips to “fix” other people but simply to accompany them and let them know that they are loved. Every aspect of our priestly lives, even here at home, has to show forth this element of mission.
By: Patrick Riviere