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Franciscan Friday: Laborers of the Lord


This Friday post comes from Jeff Sved on mission in Bolivia where he is finding work, and God, in the vineyards.

Photo by Feliciano Guimarães

Fruit of the vine and work of human hands now has a new meaning for me after a few afternoons sorting grapes with the Capuchin Sisters down the street. They have a small tienda attached to their convent, where among other things they sell wine for communion. A few times a year they get a shipment of grapes in from one of the surrounding vineyards and recruit volunteers to help with the process.

The most labor intensive step is the first part, where the grapes must be removed from the vines. So for two afternoons a bunch of volunteers along with the Capuchin Sisters and a group of the student Franciscan Friars joined together to strip grapes from their bunches into giant vats which would later be pressed.

It was a great community building experience and helped to show how in the past it was also a community building experience. Further it emphasized our role as co-creators with God that is highlighted in the liturgy. In giving thanks for the wine that is fruit of vine as well as work of human hands, we acknowledge both God’s role and ours in setting the Eucharistic table. A similar image comes to mind with the bread.

I can’t imagine the richness of these words in communities where the whole process of seed to grape to wine is experienced. But after this experience I can appreciate more the language of the mass, and also recognize more of the connection between God and nature that I often glance over in the mass itself.

Jeff Sved served in Cochabamba, Bolivia, from 2013-2016. His main ministry was working with inmates in seven prisons throughout Cochabamba.

Prior to joining FMS he served in Wilmington, Del., with Franciscan Volunteer Ministry teaching math in a prison and teaching English to members of the Latino community. Originally from Pittsburgh, Penn., and a graduate of Villanova University.