PARAGUAY, Diocese of Encarnación, Rodolfo and Julia Widmann •
Since we learned about the “Pastoral de la Esperanza”, Ministry of Hope, in October, 2008, our desire for this directive to reach the Diocese of Encarnación has never diminished. It was officially established in April, 2009. The support of Fr. Gilberto Penayo, the pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, at that time, and that of the couples, who gave their unconditional “Yes” to the great mission that Saint John Paul II indicated in section Nº 84 of his Encyclical (1981) Familiaris Consortio, was crucial: “…Together with the Synod, I earnestly call upon pastors and the whole community of the faithful to help the divorced, and with solicitous care to make sure that they do not consider themselves as separated from the Church, for as baptized persons they can, and indeed must, share in her life. They should be encouraged to listen to the word of God, to attend the Sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts in favor of justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God’s grace…” ( John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio (November 22, 1981), Nº 84)
The joy of being children of God
Why did we experience an ardent desire to share this message? The Ministry of Hope has given us a place where our hearts are once again sheltered in the security of feeling loved by Christ. We understand more fully that we are true children of God. He offers us a new opportunity even in the irregular situation in which we live. This is what we wanted to share with all our brothers and sisters, who are in a similar situation, SENU (Separated in a new relationship) or DVC (Divorced in a new relationship), so that they may also find that same happiness.
The idea of being able to live in union with Christ even as SENU or DVC, to savor God’s mercy and to be wholly welcomed by Mary, by living fully as members of the Church, is a great joy. It is that joy Pope Francis speaks about that should be lived because it is lived with Jesus.
In Evangelii Gaudium, The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis explicitly tells us that we should enjoy the sweet joy of God’s love, by renewing our personal encounter with Jesus. “…No one should think that this invitation is not meant for him or her, since no one is excluded from the joy brought by the Lord.”1 (Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel (24 November 2013), pp.1, 2)
So after these six years, our life is the Ministry of Hope! We have grown together, we with the ministry, the ministry with us. We began with three SENU couples and two consecrated couples who accepted the apostolate and became our coordinators. Presently the Ministry of Hope reaches the entire diocese and offers opportunities for separated couples in a new relationship. As a community we belong to the first group that was formed in December, 2013. We founded the Schoenstatt group “”Road, Faith and Joy” and we sealed the covenant of love with our Mother and Queen in 2015.
Belonging to this apostolate has united us, strengthened us and given us all the tools to live fully as a couple. We can hear the Word of God with open and willing ears. We attend, understand and savor the Holy Mass. We persevere in personal prayer, and as a couple, we educate the children in the Christian faith. We cultivate the Spirit freely, and with hearts full of love, we offer works of penance. In these ways, we graciously receive the grace of God day by day.
Source: Tuparenda Magazine, June 2015
Original Spanish: Translation: Celina M. Garza, San Antonio, TX USA; proofreading: Marilyn Pfeifer, Paradise, TX, USA