Dear readers! We are in the Third Week of Advent, with Gaudete Sunday! How are you going to share the joy of Christ? This is my Advent Challenge, simply put – how you will go out, as Pope Francis as said so many times, to the periphery to share the joy of the Gospel, to share the love of Christ?
Here is one invitation of what you can do! This January is the 3rd annual Austin CARITAS mission – a mission with the purpose of going to the periphery of our very own city, to minister to our neighbors in need. CARITAS, Latin for love, in this case stands for Catholics Answering the Redeemer’s Call To Authentic Sanctity. It was started by a group of college students at the University Catholic Center at the University of Texas in 2013.
The deadline to sign up is JANUARY 1st, so I challenge you to make this discernment now, in the midst of the hectic holiday season. How are you called to go out? Please check out the CARITAS Facebook Event Page for all details. You can also find info here, and watch a great Vimeo video here! And you can SIGN UP HERE!
Here are a few testimonials about Caritas Austin:
I love Austin CARITAS, because it is a mission trip right here in Austin; right here in our backyard. We did not need to buy expensive plane tickets to answer Pope Francis’s call to be the missionary generation. In Austin CARITAS 2014 we went out each day to use our hands to serve our community and to spread Christ’s love. At the same time I was being formed and transformed through intense talks, time in prayer and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and growing together as a community, especially in my mission team. CARITAS was such a transforming experience of living in and sharing Christ’s love. By the end of the mission trip it felt that it had been much, much longer than 4 days, and I think this goes to show how deeply impacted we were by the missions. One of my favorite moments was each morning after daily Mass when the teams were blessed and sent out. Each team received an image of the Blessed Mother, and said “She is the great missionary! She will work miracles!” – Chris Boardman, Student at the University of Texas
“Austin CARITAS has revealed to me the true vocation of a missionary. I was surrounded by university students with the same desire in their hearts to serve and experience God’s true presence within their own city. Within this trip, I grew through the example of our Blessed Mother- the first missionary. She leads us through her YES to God’s will, and teaches us how to faithfully bring Christ into this world. Austin CARITAS integrates spirituality with service in just five days. We traveled within the radius of the city of Austin, not across the world. We listened to talks given by our own peers, spent countless hours in community, meditated on scripture, the Mass and spent time in Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. This mission has taught me to be a missionary in my daily life- to serve, love and pray for my neighbors in every moment God grants me. This missionary call to serve is a bold one, but it is the key to an everyday saint. As we as university students move forward with our upcoming Austin CARITAS, I truly believe we can continue to change our city. Through this mission, we are able to grow in our spirituality and use this to fuel our hearts to bring Christ into the lives of those we encounter. We are being called to transform our culture. Austin CARITAS has the power to do this; it just takes the YES of a faithful servant to begin. ” Jocelyn Perez, Student at the University of Texas
CARITAS is also sponsored by the Schoenstatt Movement of Austin, the local branch of an international lay ecclesial movement of religious and moral renewal. Fr Jesus Ferras, Moderator of the Schoenstatt Movement in Texas, had this to say about CARITAS:
“As Catholics we are impelled to take action on the invitation of our Holy Father Pope Francis to reach out to the peripheries. That’s exactly what Austin CARITAS is doing, answering to the call to be missionaries and to reach out to new existential peripheries right here in our Diocese, in Austin. It’s just great to experience the overwhelming answer of so many college students that decide to give of their Christmas holidays to, like Mary when she visited Elisabeth, help those in need in our city.”
Please also pray for the success of this mission and all of the young adults who will be serving, that the mission may bring abundant blessings to our city!
Advent Challenge: Choose one concrete way that you can go out to the peripheries of our culture and city to share Christ’s love and joy this Advent and Christmas season. If not through CARITAS, what other way can you, and your friends, your family, get together to serve and share, to show Christ’s love and joy in a concrete way?
One last note: Register SOON! They anticipate that all spots will be filled by this date and encourage you to sign up ASAP to secure your spot. Once you apply and pay, you will be notified of whether you have been accepted or put on the waitlist.