European Redemptorist Mission Camp in the Mission of Albania

The European Redemptorist Missionary Camp officially started in the Albanian Mission on Sunday 7th of July. This volunteering mission experience will take place over two weeks starting from 7 to 21 July 2019.

The interprovincial community of Albania, after the European Meeting of Redemptorists GRANADA 2018, decided to open its doors to the young people who participated in it, as part of the journey that the Redemptorist vocational youth ministry carries out throughout the European continent, even to the Conference level.

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In the European missionary work two young people from the Province of Warsaw (Dorota and Gabriela), four young people from the Province of Madrid (Ana Maria, Beatriz, Gloria and Gonzalo) and three volunteers who have already participated in the Mission of Albania, participate in the Province of Rome (the couple Luciano and Clara, in addition to Mercedes).

Furthermore, the Commission of New Mission Initiatives of the Conference of European Redemptorists decided to hold its meeting on 11 and 12 July in Kamëz (Albania), but most of its members participated in the first week of this European missionary Camp. Frs. Miguel (Madrid), Rasto (Slovakia), Daniele (Rome) and the lay missionaries of the province of Lisbon, José and Teresa were part of it.

The participants in the Missionary Camp attend prayer and Eucharist every day. The morning time is for the volunteer work, both with children and with young people with manual work on the mission premises, and in the evening there is a time for sharing experiences. Luciano and Clara are in charge of preparing lunch and dinner for everyone!

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The participants were welcomed on Sunday 7th of July and on Monday 8th July, the mission camp began with a visit to the city of Shkodër, in northern Albania. Shkodër is the Catholic capital of this predominantly Muslim country, and there are strong testimonies of the history of the Church in Albania, and the signs of persecution and martyrdom during the atheist communist dictatorship. Thus, visiting the Metropolitan Cathedral of Shkodër (during communist regime it was a sports palace), the Diocesan Museum and the prison of the Blessed Martyrs of Albania, the participants were able to learn a little about the history of Albania which is in need of God’s words.

The next three days (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday) the volunteers were divided into two service teams, Primarily, the biblical camp for children and young people in the Church of Perpetual Help of Kasallë, and secondly there are volunteer artists who worked on restoring of old images  and looked after the arrangement of a playground for children in the Monastery of San José de Arrameras.

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The second week, volunteering took place in the two main parishes of the Mission: the Parish of St. Alphonsus, in the center of the city of Kamëz and the place where the community resides, and the Parish of St. John Paul II, the district of Bathore, where the shelter for the volunteers is located.

Every morning, for five days, the biblical camps for children and adolescents took place in both parishes. The young people of the Mission become Missionaries of the Joy of the Gospel for the little ones, for the Catholics … and also for the members of other religious confessions. Joy brings everyone together in the same activity, beyond beliefs, but with a very Christian theme.

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In Kamëz, the young animators gathered around the “Chiro” group that a Belgian missionary founded over a decade ago. They, in union with the Spanish volunteers, celebrate the “Week of Faith for Children”, whose protagonist is the Precursor of the Lord, St. John the Baptist.

In Bathore, the animators are the members of Catholic Action, and the Polish volunteers from the Province of Rome collaborate with them. It is also an opportunity for children and adolescents with a biblical theme, bringing the little ones closer to the Word of God.

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In the afternoon, Mercedes continues as an Italian teacher in Kasallë, where she has already offered a course two years ago. In addition to the language, we take the opportunity to introduce the life of St. Alphonsus with easy drawings and writings. At the same time, Luciano and Clara held several cooking classes for teenagers and young people, a task they developed two summers ago with great competence and kindness in Bathore. From these cooking classes, the rich dinners were prepared and shared by the volunteers, young people and members of the community.

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The last few days are always sad because the camp nears to an end. But the community and the faithful of the Redemptorist Mission also have a special reason: Brother Álvaro Ortiz Jiménez de Cisneros, a student of temporary vows of the Province of Madrid, ends his year of missionary experience in Albania. In these twelve months, he learned the difficult Albanian language and was in charge of the animators of the Chiro group of Kamëz. Without a doubt, we will miss a lot.

We recall that two young people from the Province of Warsaw (Dorota and Gabriela), four young people from the Province of Madrid (Ana María, Beatriz, Gloria and Gonzalo) and three volunteers who previously participated in the Mission in Albania, from the Province of Rome (the couple Luciano and Clara, in addition to Mercedes). Finally, over the weekend, the General Consultor, Fr. Pedro López, head of the RYVM in the Congregation, came to visit the Mission Camp, and we thank him for his support and his visit.

Fr. Laureano del Otero Sevillano C.Ss.R.

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