Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile (UC): Nearly 1,500 students will tour Chile on volunteer work and winter missions

Backpacks, bags, construction materials and tools, sleeping bags and many young people on the move to bring Christ’s message of hope to hundreds of people and families is what was experienced on the morning of this Wednesday, July 13, at the San Joaquín Campus. from UC. It was a special day for the volunteers from the Mission of Life, Work Country, Siembra UC projects and the Mission Country Choir, who went out to meet different communities in Chile, with the joy of sharing a living church.

The winter works and missions are coordinated by the Directorate of Pastoral Care and Christian Culture . They will be held between July 13 and 22 and have the participation of young university students from UC and other universities, as well as third and fourth grade students. During these days, they will share with neighbors from 52 locations through different activities, in addition to the construction of meeting spaces.

The rector of the UC, Ignacio Sánchez, congratulated the volunteers for their motivation to go out to meet their neighbors following the invitation of Pope Francis to be a church and Pastoral in outgoing. “The fact that nearly 1,500 young people go on missions and winter jobs reflects the commitment of a very important number of students from our university who leave their rest area to go meet with the communities, to serve, to evangelize and also to strengthen their faith and become an integral part of our Christian community in the country.”

After loading the buses with everything necessary to make these days of missions and work a great experience, the sending mass was held in the church of the San Joaquín campus of the UC. It was presided over by the UC Vice Grand Chancellor, Father Tomás Scherz, and by the Senior Chaplain, Father Jorge Merino.

Father Jorge Merino, who is in charge of guiding the coordinators of the Pastoral UC projects, has guided the work that will be carried out in the works and missions. “With everything we are experiencing, with the political and social situation in Chile, with the crisis in the Church, some of you may wonder if it is worth going to build a chapel or go on mission. God tells us yes in a forceful way, since today we are celebrating Saint Teresa of Los Andes, who was born 122 years ago. All over the world today this Chilean saint who consecrated her life to Jesus is being commemorated,” Father Merino stressed.

“Through you, God is going to do his work, as long as we offer it. Thank you very much for the testimony you give us. We are going to visit them. Count on our prayers and know that you are not a single zone, but 52 united zones”, emphasized the Senior Chaplain.

For his part, Father Tomás Scherz pointed out that “we have met to send these missionaries, with which we are extremely happy, because the university also goes with them, but above all the believing world goes, which wants and has the conviction that the world can always be better at work, in explicit announcement, in joy”.

“The fact that close to 1,500 young people go on missions and winter jobs reflects the commitment of a very important number of students from our university who leave their rest area to go meet with the communities, to serve, to evangelize and also to strengthen their faith and become an integral part of our Christian community in the country” – rector Ignacio Sánchez

The Auxiliary Bishop of Santiago, Bishop Alberto LorenzelliHe sent a message of thanks to the young people: “Get on your way; announce: the joy of the gospel and the good news of Jesus, bear witness, with authenticity and coherence, to our being believers. These are three verbs that enrich the life of the Church, they give a young and vital face to this wounded and sometimes suffering Church. For this reason, both in material and spiritual work, these missions speak of a Church on the way, which has a present in these young people and has more of a future than a past. From this testimony we can look forward to a hopeful future.”

The pandemic still persists and that is why the young people were given a health protocol to take care of themselves and the communities they will visit. However, since most of the population was vaccinated, this time it was possible to generate greater facilities in the areas to be able to receive the volunteers.

This allowed a greater number of students to participate in these projects, “seeing this number of volunteers is a very powerful sign of hope in the times we are living, it is a sign of a church that is still very active, a church young, a happy church, which is going to deliver a message of hope to so many communities that are waiting for us today”, said Benjamín Cruz, director of the Pastoral .

What are the projects about?
“This year we want to reactivate youth, we come from two years of pandemic where attendance was almost zero, being very comfortable at home or on zoom. We believe that we have a duty as youth to go out to meet Chile and those who need it most. We want to show that youth exists in the country and is willing to serve others”, said Hernán Holch, general coordinator of Trabajo País 2022, who together with Inés Ariztía have led the work of this project.

Under the slogan “Young man wake up! Today Christ wants you alive” , the volunteers will go to build spaces for dialogue and encounter, putting Christ at the center. Country Work seeks to convey a message of hope, founded on the encounter with Christ, giving the skills of each one to the service of others, Chile and the Church, with the intention of building meeting and dialogue spaces. This year, the university students will be in 23 locations from the Arica region to the Bío Bío region, where they will build chapels, grottoes and parish halls, among others.

The volunteers of the Mission of Life, Work Country, Siembra UC and the Mission Country Choir projects, who went out to meet different communities in Chile, with the joy of sharing a Living Church.

Siembra UC is a missionary project that was born in 2003 with the intention of uniting third and fourth year high school students and university students who seek to work together for Chile and the Church. This year’s motto is: “Young people with Christ, go out and sow his love!” To achieve this, nearly 450 missionaries will travel to different regions of the country bringing a message of hope and joy to the communities. “We are very excited that this message has reached so many people. Saint Alberto Hurtado said that a Catholic is a person to whom God entrusted the world. So today we say to you: Take charge of the world. Pope Francis tells us young people: you are God’s now, that’s why go and take charge today”, expressed Amanda Tolosa and Samuel Barros, before leaving.

Meanwhile, Mission of Life is an invitation to live a personal and community experience of encounter with Christ, being his disciples. This year, they will visit camps and volunteers will unite according to their careers, so that through their knowledge they can make concrete contributions to their communities.

María Paz Alessandri and Juan Pablo Sáez, general coordinators of Misión de Vida, told the volunteers “since we started this dream, that we saw this day very far away. We did not imagine that there would be 1,500 brave young people who were going to go out to meet Christ, responding to a current Chile that today has a lot of uncertainty. The presence of each one of you is very important, because you have something to give from your own. We are brave young people dedicated to the one true encounter that can change lives. Young people who can respond and generate an encounter with Christ. Let us respond courageously to the Christ of life.”

For its part, the Country Mission Choir seeks to be an instrument for Christ to reach the hearts of all people, through music and song. They will tour the different communities facilitating the encounter with God through their songs. “We know that through music instances of prayer can be lived more deeply and that is the mark we want to leave in these missions and works. Ensure that each person has a real connection with Christ in his prayer”, pointed out Manuel Jouanne and María José Chadwick, general coordinators of the project.