II American Mission Congress begins in Guatemala
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.- More than 3,000 people are gathered together since Tuesday in Guatemala to open the II American Mission Congress (CAM 2), a unique Church event on this continent.

CAM 2 will begin this afternoon when visitors from 37 countries, cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and representatives of other continents, will proceed towards the John Paul II Auditorium with the popular devotional images of Christ and the Virgin of Guadalupe, which have been venerated in the dioceses of Central America during the Missionary Holy Year.   At three o’clock in the afternoon, Cardinal Crescencio Sepe, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, will preside at the inaugural ceremony of the Congress and read a message prepared by Pope John Paul II for the occasion. 

According to local press reports, the message expresses the Pope’s desire that the laity of the continent grown in Christian spirit and commit themselves will all of their strength to the work of evangelization.

Congress participants will have the chance to spend time in Eucharistic adoration, which will be taking place throughout the event.

The schedule for CAM 2, which will end on Sunday, November 30, includes two daily conferences on the challenges of missionary work.

Cardinal Sepe will offer the first conference on “The mission ad gentes today”, followed by Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, who will speak on “Poverty, Humility and Martyrdom as starting points for Mission Work.”

On Thursday, Father Joaquin Garcia, OSA, will speak on “Missions: Creation’s testimony” followed by Adelaida Suerio and a group of women from Peru who will speak on “Missions: announcing the fullness of the Gospel of Life to all.” 

On Friday, Bishop Francois Lapierre of Saint-Hyacinthe, Canada, will speak on “Missions and the challenges in today’s world,” and Bishop Victorino Girardi of Tiralan, Costa Rica, will speak on “Being a Missionary ‘ad gentes’ in the 21st Century.”

According to organizers, at the end of each conference time will be given for missionaries to share their testimonies, and the afternoons will be dedicated to group work sessions.  The day will end with Masses celebrated in the Cathedral, in parishes and deaneries of the diocese.  On Saturday, conclusions of the congress will be announced as well as important messages and information about CAM 3.

Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa of Santiago, Chile, and President of the Latin American Bishops Conference (CELAM) will preside at Mass.  That afternoon many participants of the Congress will attend the World Festival of Marian Songs.

On Sunday the Congress will conclude with a celebration in the National Stadium with some 5,000 faithful.  Cardinal Crescencio Sepe will preside at the closing Eucharist.

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