By Brother Roger Stanley Melara
Part of our Carmelite life, wherever we serve on this earth, is dedicated to announcing the Good News to all those people who approach us with love in our different ministries.
As every year, during Holy Week, the Carmelites in El Salvador carry out small group encounters with the people, in different areas of our country. During Holy Week 2018, I shared my experience in a small community called Los Naranjos, in the department of Chalatenango.
One of the things that caught my attention is that the community is free of the gangs that are present in much of El Salvador. It is a community that is very much alive in the faith, mostly professing itself in the Catholic faith. We begin the Holy Week with the procession of bouquets in the nearby town called San Luis del Carmen (dedicated to Our Lady of Carmen).
It was impressive to see how the faith of those people moved them as they celebrated the faith that united them. On Monday we met with the young people, where we developed the theme of caring for the land and how from childhood they can help take care of the environment.
And on Tuesday the pre-novice Ulises Ascencio shared the concept with the young people that they have a responsibility to the new social realities of their country. The young people commented that there is a movement in the community called “Developing Ideas” that seeks to integrate young people so that they do not look for gangs.
With simplicity each of the people expressed their faith and something that caught my attention was that some of them raised the need for priests to be accessible to them. Not only priests to conduct masses and sacraments, but priests who can be a part of their ways of life and share their faith. As a Carmelite religious, I feel challenged and blessed that I can be close to my people and fulfill that need.
Thanks to the efforts of each of them we managed to live a Holy Week where we were all enriched by our shared faith, by stories of our lives and ways of living and by the young people’s understanding the church and especially their need for pastors close to them. As our Carmelite Rule invites us to work so that the devil finds us busy (RC 25) the work is continuous, and it requires the effort of all.