When the first year of the election of the Superior General is over, we approach her to get to know her a little more and learn about her service to the Congregation. An image, a phrase, a word from this time, a message that you want to leave us … We thank Graciela who, in the midst of her many occupations, has made a place to share this first year on the road with all of us.
What image, symbol or phrase does your first year as Superior General express?
The image that expresses, not only this year but my life, is that of the road. And a plain road, where you can see the beginning and not see the end of it because it is lost in a horizon that is always open. The path invites us to walk – internally and externally – The path is an expression of these six years, we traveled the first, we still have five. And I look with hope and hope at the walk that lies ahead.
The phrase that has been with me for many years since I discovered it in M. Cándida is: “For the good of the Congregation I will give my life.” It was the phrase I chose for perpetual profession. And a year ago, when we were on days of conversation between us, prior to the election of Superior General and I could see this as a possibility, this phrase came again and again to my heart and became a fundamental part of my spiritual experience.
If I look back this phrase became ‘skin’ in my life as a Daughter of Jesus. For the good of the Congregation, of the universal Body, I want to offer my life in this service to which the CGXVIII sent me; as does each Daughter of Jesus in the different places where they are sent. And I want to offer it from what I am, with my gifts and my limits, which will make me humble and therefore more similar to Jesus. I want to deliver it with joy. Accompany so that each Daughter of Jesus and lay people live from the charism of Cándida María de Jesús and that we take care of the inheritance received, making it grow so that it reaches its best expression, it is a commitment and, at the same time, it is a gift from the Lord.
And here I bring another phrase that is my companion on the road from my student years in Rome: Where do you want to take me, Lord? Following you, my Lord, I cannot lose myself. “(Spiritual Diary 113, Saint Ignatius of Loyola) The question I ask the Lord today is where do you want to take the Congregation? And I am certain of the faith that following him, in poverty and humility, we cannot lose ourselves.
How do you perceive the situation we are experiencing today?
The word that best expresses me to say about the situation we are experiencing today is ‘a strange time’. And when I say strange I mean unknown, without precedent, and without knowing how we are going to continue. I think it is a time that is allowing us to live a different experience, to be inside the home, in the communities; the families within their homes … We do not stop suffering the very painful deaths of so many human beings, lived in circumstances of solitude as we would never have imagined. It is a time that makes me continue to believe in the human being, because in extreme situations like this, he is capable of bringing out the best in ourselves, and we see him in positions of such courage and altruism, which do us great good. It is an invitation to continue believing in the human being, as God believes in him, in us.
What message do you leave us on this May 1, 2020 to our extended family?
The message that I wish to leave with the Daughters of Jesus, my sisters, and the laity that make up the Mother Candida family is one of hope, to which this Easter season encourages us. The risen Jesus is its source and end. The Christian’s hope is a theological hope, it has its ground in the experience of faith. I want to believe that this Covid 19 pandemic experience will not come out the same way that we started. Something will have changed in us. And I am not saying it in a naive way, a reflection that we have to do is pending. But something, even if it is small, will be different. And in that different that is already in each one of us, I lean to bet that we can dream of a better world, a world more similar to what God dreamed of creating it, a world with possibilities for all human beings, with conditions that dignify the person, the human being in his condition of son of God and brother of all. I believe in a world in which we all take care of ourselves: the common home, families, relationships, workplaces, our vocations, that of the religious and that of the laity. We both have to take care of ourselves to grow in our vocation.
Maybe you want to share something else…
One last thing that I would like to share is this: since I started being Superior General until now, this year, the number of formates has increased in the Congregation. There were several admissions during the year, in some countries more than others. But vocations are beginning to emerge in countries that until now we have not had: Indonesia, Bangladesh, Puerto Rico … they are the first, very early stages. They are young people who want to live their Christian life, from the charism of M. Cándida, and in this lifestyle that is the apostolic religious life. They are young applicants, some of whom, due to this pandemic, have changed the place where they began their training, from one country to another … where it was not planned. They begin by experiencing the availability of the Daughter of Jesus.
The experience we go through is an opportunity. The world could not continue living in the frenzy in which it was, the Daughters of Jesus and the laity are not strangers to it. To live our vocation with meaning, we need times that this pandemic has given us and that otherwise we might not have allowed ourselves. Hopefully we will learn more about the heart of the gospel and the heart of humanity, where it is most suffering.
Thanks for your words, Graciela. We continue to thank God for your life and that of your counselors. The Sisters and laity commit ourselves to carry out that “pending reflection that we have to do” to build that “world in which we all take care of ourselves.“