By Sr Elizabeth Magwenzi L.C.B.L
A deeper insight into the Redemptorist missions shows an abiding call to evangelization that can transform the lives of many regardless of religion or denomination. On Saturday 20 March 2019, social communications Chinhoyi caught with Fr Travis Moyo who gave an overview of what really a Redemptorist Mission is and its purpose in the church.
The Redemptorists congregation was found in 1734 Southern Italy by Alphonsus de Ligouri. Their mission was inspired by his experience in Naples. There were thousands of priests but the people were untutored in the faith. In the region of Scala, people were goats and sheep herders and farmers. Alphonsus would visit the place during his holidays and would engage them in the Gospel but he discovered that they really did not know the Gospel. That is how the Redemptorists came to be founded, to preach the gospel to the poor and the most abandoned ever since to the present. It is part and parcel of their charism and mission. They carry out the mandate of proclaiming the gospel. Thus their Missions express the explicit proclamation of the word of God.
It has been two weeks in Chinhoyi visiting the prison and witnessing the gospel to prisoners, evangelizing to the youths, individuals, families, small Christian communities and the Corpus Christi Cathedral surrounding communities. The missions began with visits to each and every home. Fr Moyo said they meet with people per request and encountered with those who expressed the need to be visited. The first week was characterised by home, prison, family and individual visits and ministration. The second week focused on preached sermons during the day, school of prayer where people where instructed on prayer and faith. Masses were said daily in the mornings while visits were done during the day.
Asked on the overall outcome of the mission weeks, Fr Moyo said that it was quite a fulfilling experience. He said the Missions had two dimensional approach: reaching out to those who have not heard the word and encouraging those who are practising Catholics. In visiting the small Christian communities they targeted lapsed Catholics and other people struggling with different problems and who were finding it hard to live their faith and come to Church. These were the primary targets for the missions in Chinhoyi including those who have been away from the church encouraging them give it another go. The Redemptorists emphasised to the people that, “God loves you and cares about you.” Fr Moyo reiterated that they encouraged them not to Hold on to the faith they have received but also to try and live it in a vibrant way.
Asked about the response they received in their mission to the lapsed Catholics and those who had not heard the word, Fr Moyo says, “It was so humbling. You get to places and hear the stories told and you respond to them. The important part is that they open up their hearts to you airing out their difficulties and challenges. Then you are already ministering to them by listening and being present to them. They would otherwise not have had anyone with whom to share their stories. To see them coming for Masses and sermons says to me that there is something that has really happened to them in their lives.”
As a congregation, Fr Moyo said the Redemptorists are open to come and give missions. As the Bishop of Chinhoyi comes from the same religious congregation, it means that there is something that can be offered from the congregation to the diocese of Chinhoyi.