Shalom started in London in 2002 as a Diffusion Work, which back then was known as “Friends of Shalom Group”. It was officially established as a mission in 2008. Since then it has grown to include over 50 people who participate in one of its 3 prayer groups, one held in Portuguese and two in English. The number of missionaries in the UK has also grown throughout the years with 5 new Postulant members and 3 members who have made Definitive and Temporary Promises. All the missionaries are members of the Shalom Covenant Community.
“The Covenant Community… is the Lord’s call to live the discipleship of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Gospel in the midst of family life and the professional activities of the present century” (Shalom Community Statutes, Article 121).
Unlike the Life Community missionaries, members of Covenant Community live in their own homes, have families and pursue secular activities while also embracing the same missionary call to be ministers and disciples of Peace, dedicating their time and lives to deep moments of prayer, fraternal life and apostolic service.
Shalom’s mission in London is active all year round with prayer groups occurring three times a week and Healing Mass held every 3 months. There are also Life in the Spirit Seminars, youth retreats, Easter retreats, Christmas and New Year’s celebrations with adoration to the Blessed Sacrament, vigil nights of adoration once a month, periodic street evangelisation and leisure days with the whole Shalom family.
As the mission in London is predominantly led by Covenant Community members, the Shalom Vocation and Charisma is expressed in many ways through the life and witness of each member. In response to questions by Comshalom (SH), 4 Community members share some precious moments with all of us.
SH – How do you manage and combine the demands of your vocation with those of your professional and family life?
My routine really varies a lot, but normally Monday to Wednesday I wake up at 6:30, and start my day saying the rosary; at 7am, I get the kids ready for school and do some house chores. I drop off the kids at school and go straight to mass from 9:30 to 10:00. I stay in the Church until 12:00, while I do my daily bible study and personal prayer in the presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Then, I go home to finish the house chores and begin working on my University projects until 15:00, when it’s time to collect the girls from school and take them to their after-school activities. We are back home around 20:00, in time for dinner, then it’s bedtime for the girls at 21:00. Once they are in bed, I sometimes have to go back to my studies until late at night. On Thursdays, I have university lectures, so my day starts a little earlier, waking up at 5:30 and saying the whole 4 mysteries of the rosary on my way to class. I have a break between lectures, which gives me time to attend Holy Mass. After I leave University, I rush to pick up the girls from school and go back home for dinner, then get ready to go to the Community Cell meeting which starts at 19hrs and finishes at 21:30. When I get back home, around 22:00, everyone is already in bed so it is easier to do my daily prayer. On Friday mornings, I wake up at 6am to do my bible study, take the girls to school, and then go to university for the 10 am lecture, saying the whole rosary on my way. After that, it’s time to rush back to pick up the girls then start to prepare dinner. Sometimes we have Shalom’s evangelisation activity going on, so Fridays varies a little bit but I attend the daily mass on Friday at 20:30 in a neighbourhood church nearby, and after everyone is asleep, I do my personal prayer. Saturday is quite a busy day as we have our Community mass at 16:00 followed by 2 prayer groups from 18:00 to 20:00. I am responsible for the Shalom Kids prayer group, which has 15 children varying in ages from 5 to 14. Sunday is really a rest day, a day at home when I get to enjoy my family doing things together, like puzzles and other games, cinema, movies, homework and so forth. I usually pray in the morning while everyone sleeps, and at 18:30 I go to mass. – Aleteia Davoli, Postulant member, wife, mother of three and student.
I have a life full of things to do, commitments and obligations. I have my secular work all day and in my ordinary life, I try as far as possible to live in an extraordinary way, embracing my community and vocational commitments and my life of intimacy with God. During my break-tines at work, I attend mass and pray. On my way to work I pray my rosary, offering my day to Our Lady and, generally in the evenings, I carry out my apostolates and prepare things for the prayer group which I coordinate on Saturdays.” – Francisca de Oliveira, missionary member with Temporary Promises, single, nanny.
SH – With all the numerous daily activities and interactions, how can you be the salt and light to the world, to your family, at work, in your everyday life?
I think I am salt and light to the world just by being a Shalom member, fulfilling everything that my Vocation asks me to do in order to be holy. I think that our daily routine makes people curious and opens the door to many questions: Why do I go to mass during my lecture breaks? Why do I fast on Fridays while my University colleagues are having their lunch? Why am I always defending life? Why during the lectures do I always show another way to see things- the way of love…? People question me a lot, and I am so glad that today I can answer many of their questions because I can feel that I’ve been formed by the Shalom Catholic Community to be in this world and live alongside it. In my family, I’m always showing the direction, always trying to set a good example for them, because I can’t preach one thing and live another, and that is so interesting because my girls and my husband bring their life experiences from school and from work asking for my opinion about these different situations. They also ask for my prayers for their daily situations, or for their friends, so it is really nice to see that they know that when we can’t do much by our hands, we just need to place them in God’s hands and trust in Him. I feel so happy when they come to discuss decisions that they have to make, for example, about work, school subjects, and even decisions about changing the car or going on holidays… At times like these I have the opportunity to invite them to pray, to listen to what God wants! Teaching them to discern things in prayer is really satisfying because I believe it is something that my girls will bring to their families, and the seeds will spread into new generations. What I bring in my mindset every day and everywhere I go is that I need to be this “shalom”, I need to be this “peace”, comfort, and hope. I really feel like “Yes, I can live as the Saints lived!” It is not easy, it is not simple, it means that I will be always swimming against the tide, but “yes”, it is possible and it depends only on me. I do not have to wait for someone to try first, I just have to do my part with my eyes fitted in God, nobody else, but Him. – Aleteia Davoli, Postulant member.
To be in the world and not belong to the mainstream means letting the light of God shine through. It is quite a big challenge for a missionary, especially here in London, where everyday we are offered worldly things that are very attractive and easy to get. However, it is a great joy when in our day-to-day life we are approached by people who have not yet had an experience with God, asking us what it is that we have, what it is that makes them see something different in us. The best way for us to bear witness of Christ here in this city, where many times we find people who do not even want to hear the Name of God, is with our lives, our joy and even a smile. It is by spending time with them, entering their lives and letting them enter ours where they will encounter God.” – Francisca de Oliveira, Temporary Promises member.
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