For our longer apostolic experience (5 months), I am helping in the Ein Karem guesthouse, volunteering in caring for the Migrant’s children in the Kehila (the Hebrew- speaking Catholic Community in Jerusalem), as well as visiting some of the Filipino families in Jerusalem who are bringing their children to the Kehila. In addition to my apostolic experience I have been studying Modern Hebrew for the past three months. I also had the opportunity to participate in some of the classes in the English Biblical program during the month of September, where we focused on the gospel of Matthew.
Having the opportunity to do my apostolic experience as a member of the Apostolic Community in Ein Karem has taught me many things. Living in Ein Karem while doing my volunteer work in the guesthouse and in the Kehila, as well as studying Hebrew, enabled me to realize that the essence of ministry/apostolate and mission is love, mercy, compassion, commitment, sharing life, sharing meals, walking with people, befriending them, and service. Furthermore my apostolic experience has given me an opportunity to deepen and integrate our Charism and biblical spirituality; that has drawn my attention to values such as healing, reconciliation, love, charity, building bridges through bringing people together, especially those who are different. It made me realize that the most important aspect of apostolic ministry is simply to journey with people, where each one of us is called to be fully present in the life of others. This invites each of us to allow our “space” to be penetrated by a Divine Encounter that prompts us to remove our shoes for the ground on which we stand is holy. It means recognizing the face of God in my present situation and through the people I meet daily. This is clearly stated in our constitution:
“We seek constantly the face of God. Sometimes God reveals Godself to us in the silence of contemplation to which we give our time freely, open to receive. At other times our experience of God is intimately linked to the encounter with and the service of others; we share their joys and sorrows. Without cutting ourselves off from their struggles, we contemplate the saving life of God in thanksgiving and blessing. Thus action and contemplation gradually become one in our life” (Cons # 53).
This appears too in the first letter in preparation for the next General Chapter of the Congregation, where it says that we must recognize where our Galilee is. Galilee is where we meet God face-to-face in the here and now. Galilee is where I am called to live and encounter God. For now, my Galilee is to be in the Ein Karem Community helping in the guesthouse and in the caring for migrant children in the Kehila.
In addition, my apostolic ministry has taught me that apostolate is also “wasting time,” to be present and available for others in order that they may feel loved, welcomed, cared for and accepted. It is not so much what I can do and would like to do for them, according to my own terms, but rather how much I am able to give of myself and my time to people that God has put in front of me.
Furthermore, taking care of the children of Filipino Migrants has given me opportunities to visit their homes, and to enjoy a moment of sharing life while eating with them. This experience reminds me of what Jesus and his apostles were doing in their time. Most probably their sharings about the joys and struggles of life and about God happened during meals. I am grateful for the generosity, hospitality, love, care and warm welcome of the Filipino Migrants in Jerusalem that I got to know and befriended. I am really touched by their courage, resilience, faith, openness to share their life and their trust in me. Being with the children in the Kehila has given me occasions to practice my Hebrew, so my study of Hebrew has become useful. Finally, I am thankful for the opportunities that the Congregation have given me during my apostolic experience in Jerusalem. Indeed God has blessed me and taught me many things about life, mission, the Charism of our Congregation, the call to follow Jesus, and other things as well.
Written by Arlyne