October 2016: Fr. Abishu Morke Barisso – My US Missionary Journey

From the time I heard that, as I.M.C. working in the three Countries – Canada, U.S.A and Mexico, we belong to the same Delegation, I personally thought about the way we can strengthen our relationship and share our pastoral experiences across our Countries. In the middle of September 2016, Fr. Paolo, the Delegate Superior of IMC in North America, sent us some questions for reflection. They dwelt on our diversity in cultures and languages as well as on the financial administration of our Delegation.

The mission of our Delegation comprises of the following “Areopagus” (priorities):
– On-going Formation;
– Missionary Awareness and Vocation Promotion;
– Communication: Magazines, Websites, etc.;
– Urban Pastoral Activity.

Besides the above missionary activities, I maintain that we need to reflect, plan and carry out pastoral care also for the immigrants: a pastoral challenge in North America.

Since we arrived in Mexico, we have been working with lay people. These eight years have been a time of witnessing to the Gospel among the people, following our Charism.

As an African Missionary I have observed that mission is not money but it’s above all love and service to people. It is being present among the people, sharing their joys and problems, focusing above all on every person.

Our presence among the people and the service to them has led them to donate land to us. On this land, situated in San Antonio Juanacaxtle, our future house is being built. The financial help from local people has brought us far in this project. However, the majority of people supporting the project are poor.

As the person in charge of the construction work, I have tried to be in contact with benefactors not only from Guadalajara but also outside the town. The link between Mexicans living in USA and the Missionaries working in California has greatly marked our project. On the month of October 2016, I went to the United States for the missionary animation and appeals. On October 20, I arrived in Oakland. During the first week, I stayed in a Northern California small town, near San Francisco, called Richmond. I was put up by five different families from Guadalajara, Mexico. On the day following my arrival, I had the opportunity to celebrate the Sunday Eucharist; fortunately it was Mission Sunday. On that day I went with Mrs. A. to visit her friend at Kaisers hospital.

Mrs. A. attends Mass at St […] church and St […] church, both of them in Richmond. We went to visit the two parishes and luckily their Pastors opened the doors for me to preside over the Eucharist on Mission Sunday at 10.00 AM and at 12.00 PM. The mission appeal was carried out, as a second collection was held towards our missionary needs. The faithful in the two parishes not only contributed to our missionary basket but also received from our missionary basket, which was full of homemade religious articles like bangles and necklaces I had brought from Mexico.

The most interesting experience was my meeting with twenty Mexican families. It was in the afternoon, the families brought with them food and drinks to the house where we had gathered. Food and drinks were shared: a good way to underscore the unity among the families. Some reconciliation was done especially between parents and children, and brothers and sisters. All this took place not without giving thanks to the Lord: the Eucharistic celebration in the family house being the best way to express our gratitude for that coming together and family solidarity. On that day we went home with substantial help, besides the great joy and friendship of the people I met.

The world Mission Sunday could not be complete without meeting the youth in their families. The majority are baptized but have abandoned their Christian faith. The Pastors of the two churches expressed their being glad for my presence as a Missionary. They also left the doors open for our missionary animation in the future.

It was joy for me to leave for Los Angeles, at the vespers of October 26, after I had spent few other days with the Christians in Richmond. In Los Angeles, the family of S. G. had prepared a place for me to spend the nights. This family was the reference point for me to be able to visit other families, bless them and give out the religious articles in my missionary basket. A. V. is one of the Christians who benefited from my family visiting: he is diabetic, he invited people to his house and we concluded the joyful afternoon with the Eucharist.

On the following week I had the opportunity to visit and serve people in other places like San Pedro in Pacoima, San Bernardino, Montebello, Paramonte, Los Angeles, Hollywood and Tijuana. The pastoral activities consisted of visiting the sick, hearing confessions and blessing homes. To my surprise, I realized that in those places there are many young people who are not yet been baptized.

Before meeting with the families of Montebello in Los Angeles, Fr. Peter Ssekajugo, a Consolata Father stationed in Riverside, and I dedicated two hours to hearing confessions. Afterwords, we had the opportunity to meet some Mexicans from Juanacatlan living in Los Angeles. We had a get-together with the families. M., a young lady from Guadalajara, aspiring to be a Consolata lay missionary was also present. She will be in contact with the Consolata Missionaries working in USA in order to acquire more experience and knowledge of missionary life. The afternoon would not have been a success without the Eucharist, which took place in Mr. A.’s family.

The missionary experience that I had in those few days when I visited the Parishes in USA was wonderful. I would like to mention that the Consolata missionaries there cordially received me. Father Peter Ssekajugo accompanied me along the streets and in the families to meet the Christians. I am very pleased to thank him, together with Fr Lou Abdoo and Fr. Lenny DePasquale, who not only accepted my missionary appeal but also allowed me to celebrate the Eucharist and facilitated the collection of a conspicuous amount of money for the construction of our house in Jalisco.

I am very grateful to all our benefactors and to all the people of good will living in USA. Thanks to the Consolata missionaries in our Delegation.

United in the mission,

Father Abishu Morke Barisso, IMC

Guadalajara, Mexico, November 17, 2016.