María Antonieta Hernández Porcel, Daughter of Jesus, of Bolivian nationality and with more than thirty years in the community, lives in the department of Cochabamba, with a group of young people in a boarding school in the countryside, near Capinota; to give these young people the opportunity to study high school, to increase the cultural level of their families and their environment. Weeks before she went deeper into the course, we took advantage of her time in Lleida to talk with her.
–Sister Tita, why did you come?
–I came here because my Congregation gave me the opportunity to take an Ignatian Immersion course in Manresa. The main objective is to reinforce what I am, to reinforce my faith and my spirituality. I am very excited, desiring greatly to receive the gifts that the Lord will give me at this time. I will be a month and a half with this proposal. My greatest wish is to return to Bolivia with this experience and share it with teachers, students, people from my environment … Share what God does with me and what he does with each of us, because the experience of faith is to discover that God is so present, and that his plan is that we seek happiness together for the realization of his Kingdom. And for me, my faith will be strengthened I think, with the completion of this course. For that I came.
– How do you see us, Sister, with the little time you have been here?
-We’ve gone for a walk in the streets of Lleida. I have seen people who live their life so simply, so quietly, in a city where I have seen big houses, buildings, flea markets, … I have been very impressed by the migrants who also have a great opportunity to live. And that they have the opportunity to keep their culture, even with the difficulty of the work. I was surprised by the welcome they give to those who are different. I have not seen rejection, but I am indeed surprised at so much migration.
-Sister, how can we help ourselves in the experience of faith, as it is lived in Latin America and how we live it here in Europe?
– I know very little about how it is lived in Europe, but we can help one another about the “how”, keeping in mind what I have shared with the European volunteers who go to the boarding school; I think relationships should be fostered, taking care of the humanity that we have which, being a gift, allows us to recover our “being children of God”. And from there, I believe that things will be fine, because God does not allow himself to be outdone in mercy. Here or there we can be human, merciful people, we can accept others as they are and live as God wishes in this Kingdom of God.
-Can you give us a message that can help us to live our faith here and that has something to do with the experience of your faith in Bolivia, in Cochabamba?
I was able to visit a sports morning at the Episcopal college; I have seen the desire to help the stores of Caritas solidarity with the recycling of clothing and accessories; I have noticed the way people treat each other … Therefore, I believe that we have to continue with what we are doing; that this world is for everyone; for it is our common home, as the Pope says; that we have to maintain our being brothers and sisters in relating with one another, in being sensitive to the needs of others, and seeing what I can do from where I am. Maybe it is not much, but we can be fraternal, supportive, brothers and sisters anywhere, … I think that we should be like that anywhere, be it in Europe or in Bolivia. Wherever we may be, God is the God of love, of mercy. Manifesting Him, I think, is the most important thing. Let Him be in us, and may He continue to act in our daily actions.
-Let’s talk about the figure of Mother Candida, your foundress. Here she is not well known, but there is a small community of the Daughters of Jesus, in Alcarrás, who are known as “Jesuitinas” for having Jesuit spirituality. In spite of this, for the majority of citizens of Lleida, Cándida María de Jesús is not so familiar. Could you tell us some phrase from Mother Candida that could encapsulate this thought of sharing, of which you told us right now?
-Look, being a Daughter of Jesus marks my life because the charism that God has given to my congregation is a charism of mercy and fraternity. So, the Daughters of Jesus, here, there, wherever we are in the world, feel as daughters, and upon feeling as daughters, we feel that we are sisters of every person. Mother Candida with her phrases accompanies us, as for example: “The world is too small for my desires”, is the desire that God may be known, in order to be a person; “God wills everything”; “With God, to all places.” The desire of filiation, of fraternity, that my congregation gives me through the charism of M. Candida makes me become and desire. Mother Candida also said: “Where there is no room for the poor, neither is there room for me”. This is one of the phrases that marks our identity and our desire for service, wherever we are.
-Thank you very much, Sister, for answering our questions. We wish you great profit from your Ignatian immersion course in Manresa and a happy return to Bolivia.