Werner David Acabal Sequen (left), Fr. Julio Barrera (center), and Cristian Aguilera (right) stand inside Holy Redeemer Parish in Beaver Dam. The two young men belong to the Misioneros Servidores de la Palabra community, which sends missionaries around the world to share the Gospel with others – even going door-to-door to invite people to Mass. COURTESY OF FR. JULIO BARRERA
Missionaries go door-to-door, invite neighbors to Mass and bible studies
BY ELIZABETH WONG BARNSTEAD, THE WESTERN KENTUCKY CATHOLIC
From September through December 2022, those living in the Beaver Dam and Morgantown areas might have been surprised to hear a knock on their door and see two young men wearing white button-up shirts and black pants, inviting them to church.
No, they were not Mormon, though one of the young men, Cristian Aguilera, admitted that people often mistake them for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Aguilera and his fellow missionary, Werner David Acabal Sequen, are in fact members of a Catholic community, called the Misioneros Servidores de la Palabra (Missionary Servants of the Word).
The two recently shared about their mission, even as they prepared to head back to their house of formation in Columbus, Ohio, after a fruitful semester of sharing the Gospel with strangers.
The community was founded by Fr. Luigi Butera in the 1980s in Mexico, but it has spread across the globe. It includes priests and religious brothers and sisters, as well as committed lay members. The community also offers an opportunity for lay young adults – like Aguilera and Sequen – to be trained as missionaries who will be sent to serve in a specific area for a set period of time, similar to NET Ministries and other Catholic young adult initiatives.
In the United States alone, the community currently serves in about 20 states. Before the missionaries are sent forth, they train for eight months at one of their houses of formation in either Ohio or California.
This semester, Aguilera and Sequen resided with Fr. Julio Barrera, the pastor of Holy Trinity Parish in Morgantown and Holy Redeemer Parish in Beaver Dam. Using the parishes as home base, the missionaries set out to get to know the people of the local area.
Aguilera said it is “definitely effective to do door-to-door,” since they have seen the success of their non-Catholic brothers and sisters using the same method.
He said “there are always Catholics who don’t find Mass very important” – which provides the missionaries an opportunity to invite them to come to church.
“We are here to help out the Catholics who are questioning their faith – to reaffirm their faith,” said Aguilera.
Besides inviting their neighbors to Mass, the missionaries also invited them to attend bible studies at the parish. The studies were offered at different times throughout the day and were geared toward specific age groups, such as adults, young adults and youth.
And it was not all seriousness all the time: they said that besides leading bible studies, they liked showing religious movies and playing games to teach the young people that being Catholic is not boring.
The two missionaries said they are thankful to Fr. Barrera for inviting their community to serve at his parishes.
“Fr. Julio is a good person and a good priest,” said Sequen of Fr. Barrera, who hopes to invite more missionaries to serve at his parishes in the future.
Aguilera and Sequen added that they’ve witnessed how “seeing young people recharges the batteries” of older parishioners who are not used to seeing young people spread the Gospel.
Originally printed in the January 2023 issue of The Western Kentucky Catholic.