Casa Velha, initial encounter
I came to Casa Velha with openness in mind to embrace the ways people do and to learn new approaches and insights, particularly in the ecological element of the project. Casa Velha (www.casavelha.org) provides a space for any person whose aim is live in unity with the world in caring for the planet, ‘our common home’ based on the Pope Francis’ Encyclical “Laudato Sí” and in connection with the Apostolic preferences of the Society of Jesus (jesuits.global at facebook.com). With this mission, Casa Velha attracts young adults who are looking for a place and a community to enhance their lives as encouraged by the Church. Casa Velha’s response to the needs of the people is a blessing particularly to regular volunteers and visitors, and to the Church. Volunteers are grateful for the experience they achieve on the farm that helps them grow as an individual and as part of a community responding to the mission of caring for the planet. What are the essential elements Casa Velha possesses that attract people especially young adults to serve God in this way?
Casa Velha’s website shows various on-going activities involving different groups of people focused on four main areas of the project: nature, community, service and prayer. Nature experience includes tree planting, vegetable gardening, weeding, harvesting and packaging of farm products. Community experience includes participation in every group activities on the farm, the house and the local community, sharing meals and life stories, and so on. Service encourages every individual to join a group task for the local community such as visiting the elderly and sick in their homes, seeing and entertaining the elderly in a nursing home, and taking the children with disability to the farm to experience nature through fun activities. Finally, every individual enhances their spiritual element through Ignatian Spirituality doing communal meditative morning prayer, evening prayer, prayer through painting, guided Spiritual Exercises, and collaborative sharing of the fruits of prayer.
With all these activities offered on the farm, people find fulfilment in their individual lives after every experience. Through these experiences, a reflection on the process of transformation allows them to go back and commit themselves in the mission of the farm. Through Casa Velha, their heart now belongs to Christ’s mission here on earth by keeping their faith as the centre of their day to day lives. Their lived-out faith is the outcome of consolation they received on the farm where nature is bountiful, in the community with a genuine spirit of sharing, in prayer that uplifts their soul, and in the generous service to others who are in need.