Today, now on Dominican Republic, I am preparing to share and retrace the long road of our passage, as a Congregation of Daughters of Jesus, through Venezuela.
The first sisters arrived on 24 September 1984 with the beautiful mission of giving their lives to Jesus and sharing the educational task in a network with Fe y Alegría. Thus, on 5th December 1985, the Escuela Técnica Cándida María de Jesús – Fe y Alegría was born.
From that September 24th until today, various sisters from Colombia, Spain, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic have accompanied the educational process and the life of Fe de la Villa del Rosario. It was the first place where we arrived and where we remained until the end of our physical departure. During this time we also accompanied schools in Tovar, Caracas. And in Mérida, the house of Spiritual Exercises San Javier del Valle.
During these 38 years of physical presence in Venezuela, we are witnesses of the immense welcome, joys and blessings that this beautiful land has given us, not only to the people who have passed through here, but to the whole Congregation.
There are so many things that we would like to say that we lack words and have too many feelings. Dates, places, people, concrete names… stories… profound experiences… that, together, Daughters of Jesus and lay people will continue to carry in our hearts with deep gratitude to the Father for giving us the gift of feeling and being FAMILY.
This sharing of mission, gospel and formal and informal education opened new paths when on November 13, 2000, after a profound discernment and continuous daily search, the community moved to an invasion sector called María Alejandra and, little by little, it was enlarged with the invasions of 26 de Enero, Simón Bolívar, Los tres Barrios, La Cañada…
Without leaving the school, the Sisters became neighbours of the Wayuu, the majority indigenous people in these sectors, and of the displaced Colombians. This closeness helped us to listen more clearly to their desires, yearnings, cries for life, rights, justice and hope. Little by little, simple women and lay men and women from the parish of Cristo Rey and the Diocese of Machiques joined in with their faith and professional contribution to the evangelising mission. In this way, we went along paths of growth, solidarity and commitment from the little or much that each one of us could share.
And so it was that, Daughters of Jesus, lay people united to the Diocese and to the parish, in continuous listening to reality and to the Word, we saw the birth of the Early Childhood Pastoral, FASFI projects, the formation and promotion of women, adult education (IRFA), the School of Theology for lay people, the networking with CARITAS, HUELLAS, AVESSOC, GUMILLA, FUDEP.
“And God saw that it was all good”… And he invited us to let the charism and mission grow and multiply as the MOTHER CANDIDA FAMILY. He encouraged us to give way to the HISTORY that is always salvation. She filled us with her GRACE to live in Easter, to let go of attachments and to walk in freedom, as the Wayuu tapestry reminds us, full of colour, life and strength, speaks of a deep and often silent joy that is given and shared with evangelical simplicity, shouting to the four winds: “ANIYA MALÉIWA” = God is still here. This is his STORY. And after a profound process of discernment, the Spirit of Jesus confirmed us to the Body and the lay men and women, in the desire to be instruments in his hands to continue his mission in this Venezuelan land from the Spirituality of Mother Candida.
Therefore, with evangelical joy, we affirm that on 29 May 2022 nothing was closed; a new chapter of this Shared Mission began, now accompanied by a team of Venezuelan lay men and women who, linked to the spirituality of Saint Candida, have constituted themselves as a Civil Association of the Mother Candida Family and are in the process of civil approval according to the laws of the country.
To remember it always, we wanted to leave this drawing that humbly wants to symbolise what has been our passage through Venezuela. The Cross in the middle of the Sierra de Perijá. We wanted to carry Jesus, to speak of Him with our lives, to walk humbly with Him together with our brothers and sisters. Jesus in the centre. Jesus, who has opened our eyes and hearts to welcome and love what is different and has made us feel that what is different has changed and enriched us. We have shared knowledge. We have been sisters, friends, neighbours… We have enjoyed and suffered… We have been, with others and with others.
Women, families, children, young people…. Our contribution has been to help people understand that one can get up, that together we can achieve, that we can dance. It is a dream and also a path.
At the foot of the Sierra, there are small flowers. In this story there is a lot of sowing, a lot of seed (La Villa, San Javier, Tovar, Caracas) and also fruits that are already there and fruits that will undoubtedly continue to grow.
In the last few days in La Villa, we have strongly experienced the heartfelt and grateful affection of so many people for the Daughters of Jesus. Our house has been filled with people who have come to spend some time with us, remembering and naming with affection each sister who has passed through here.
In conclusion, we can say that our history (said in the monition of the farewell Eucharist) has been and is a history of friendship and service, of building the Kingdom from the simple things of each day.
María del Carmen Caballero and Matilde Polanco Álvarez, Daughters of Jesus