From October 14 to 22, 2023, Rome’s streets are filled with 400 missionaries between 20 and 40 years old, who are proclaiming the joy of the Gospel to all those who will listen. This “street mission” with the theme “Live for something great,” was organized by the New Horizons Community, a Catholic association focusing on evangelizing especially those who are living in situations of distress.
“I greet the more than 400 young missionaries of New Horizons and other associations and communities, who from yesterday until next Sunday are engaged in the ‘Street Mission’ here in Rome,” Pope Francis said after the Angelus prayer on Sunday, October 15. “They are good! Let us support them with prayer in their commitment to listening to the cry of many young people and many people in need of love.”
Young people evangelizing in schools, hospitals, and more
After receiving a formation class from the New Horizons’ founder, Chiara Amirante, and taking part in a send-off Mass over the weekend, the missionaries are evangelizing in squares, universities, schools, and even a prison and a hospital throughout the week.
In Piazza del Popolo, a busy square in central Rome, the missionaries will also sing, dance and pray, and certain people will share their stories and bear witness of their faith. Several missionaries will also go to St. Peter’s Square at night to speak and spend some time with the homeless who live in the area.
Nine other Catholic communities and associations, such as the Focolare Movement, the Shalom Community, and the Emmanuel Community, are also participating in the street mission with around 100 of their members. The missionaries have come from all over Italy and some from countries across the world, such as Brazil.
Experiencing “light in the darkness”
Alessandro, a 29-year-old Italian who is discerning a vocation to the priesthood, was one of the New Horizons missionaries who went to evangelize at the Sapienza University of Rome, one of Italy’s most important educational establishments on Monday, October 16.
“As a lay university, I thought that for us missionaries it was like going into a lion’s den,” he told Aleteia.
The missionaries went to speak with the students and “share the recipe of how to discover true and full joy,” Alessandro explained.
They would then invite the students to participate in an initiative called “light in the darkness,” which consists of accompanying them to eucharistic adoration in a chapel where they would be encouraged to write a prayer on a piece of paper that they would then leave at the foot of the altar. The students would then pick another piece of paper out of a basket which would have a quote from the Bible, a “response from Jesus,” Alessandro said. This same event was repeated in several parishes and areas across Rome.
“To my amazement, it was a beautiful experience. […] It is not true that young people don’t care about anything, they are searching for something and I felt that at Sapienza University,” Alessandro added, saying many students decided to enter the chapel. “I was scared before going in, and instead to my amazement I found people were beautifully open.”