Experiences That Taught Me to Be A Missionary
Among the SSpS, I am the Sister who has been here in Cuba the longest, from the second group of sisters that I came to found. I am currently the Regional. We are three communities with three Sisters in each community and we are grateful to the Triune God for a native vocation. I am a witness to the process of integration and learning that the Sisters go through when they arrive, especially in regard to the language, the customs of the place and integration in the mission. And I have also seen Sisters leave due to health problems or for other reasons.
Many memories come to my mind, when I reflect on my missionary experience here in Cuba. I arrived from Chile on December 22, 1998 and in March 1999 went to the town of Niquero, where we started the second community, which is located in the East of Cuba in Granma Province. I was in this place for around 11 years.
I fondly remember the welcome and closeness of the people of the Christian community there, as well as of those who did not attend the Church. Thanks to the missionary spirit of some of the ladies of the community, I was able to get to know the neighborhoods, the sick, the families of the place. and the characteristics of the town. Because I had a bicycle, it was much easier for me to visit people. So this bicycle was also my missionary companion.
Every year we made the novena to the patroness of Cuba, the Virgin of Charity, as well as the Christmas novena and the novena to the patron saint of the Parish, St. Francis Xavier. When I celebrated my 25 years of religious life, I asked to renew my consecration there, in the town of Niquero, doing a mission with a group of young people. I am still in contact with various people from there and I am happy that I can continue accompanying the people.
Besides Niquero, I have also been stationed in our other two communities here in Cuba, in Nicaro and now in Havana.
My mission work has been pastoral: accompanying children in their preparation to receive the sacraments, in ministry to adolescents, with young people and with the elderly. What predominates today in Christian communities is the presence of older people. With the elderly, the ministry is especially of listening, visiting, praying together, having recreational times, etc. Together with the traditional ministries, I see that social help is especially urgent right now. So we have a dining room project in the Region in the town of Niquero. Together with lay people, the Sisters cook for around 40 vulnerable people. It is not easy to get food, but Divine Providence always provides even in those moments when it seems impossible.
The challenges that I see are knowing how to discover in such a situation what needs accompaniment and evangelization, how to respond promptly, with wisdom and discernment. The Directions of the 15th General Chapter are an opportunity and clarification for a renewal and a beginning with a new missionary impulse here in our Region of Cuba.
Sr. Miriam Pérez A. SSpS Cuba