Celina Chimeno (32) is a second phase junior, originally from the province of Mendoza (Argentina). After completing her novitiate at the formation house in Córdoba (Argentina), she was sent to Brazil for juniorate, which she continues in Argentina today.

After four years of formation-study and life as a Daughter of Jesus in Brazil, at the end of November 2020 she concluded her studies in Theology at the Jesuit Faculty of Theology (FAJE).

 

How did you meet the Daughters of Jesus?

“... in those times of  searching the Lord placed in my life a Daughter of Jesus who accompanied my discernment: Josefina Segura FI, a woman full of fruitfulness who not only helped me to listen to God in my life, but also showed me with her own life the Congregation of the Daughters of Jesus ”.

Tell us how this time of formation has been in Brazil ...

"A new country, a new language, a new culture, a new way of living, eating, laughing, being. And a new phase, a new moment in my life as a Daughter of Jesus. Today I can affirm that being nourished and strengthened by the Spirit of Jesus [1] was the pivotal axis in all my experience of Juniorate: to begin to allow myself to be configured by the Spirit of Christ, and to go on finding myself with that God who is love himself, and because He is love, He loves us and invites us to love. As the Evangelist John says, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. He who does not love has not known to God, because God is love”(Jn 4,7-8).

 

To finish the Degree in Theology in times of pandemic… What reflection arises in you between life and theology?

It is a time that invites us to contemplate the daily life that is placed in front of us with the eyes of Christ himself, to be able to place ourselves inside the Trinity and contemplate people, the world, reality. Every day more and more deaths, and thus we went from hearing "numbers" to hearing "names" of people who are affected by COVID-19. And that doesn't say anything for those of us who are finishing theology?

Undoubtedly, firstly, it was to be able to understand from the concrete reality that the eschatological sense of our existence has a hope in Christ, and that this resurrection occurs in small (and large) concrete and daily gestures. It places us in the call to Contemplate the Risen One in gestures of so many doctors, nurses, people who work in hospitals giving their lives day after day, we contemplate it in so many donations, creative and new gestures of closeness, we contemplate it in so many glances that we encounter.

That is why our Constitutions so wisely tell us that this time in the Juniorate is: “… in order to help our neighbors in the knowledge and love of God and salvation of themselves, one of the means is the study of Theology… they will dedicate themselves to it in a special way…”[2]. That dedication to which I was called from the Congregation to live with responsibility, commitment and perseverance is what opened new horizons in my way of seeing, listening, that is, in my way of Contemplating. And that is why ending the last year with everything that the Pandemic brought can be significant and deeply meaningful and thus savor the theological experience with our guts. Without a doubt, it is not only an experience of reason but also of the heart. It provided me with spaces of encounter (with the poor, with God, with myself); it helped me to remove my defenses in order to fortify myself in new ways; it questions me, uncertainties and in some way with certainties too; it placed me before a poor, fragile God. 

That experience of fragility was felt in my own life when confronted with my inner brokenness, cracks, limitations. In the apostolate with the people of the street where their lives were fragmented, wounded, full of loneliness and anguish, but at the same time lives of solidarity, compassion, tenderness.

I also experienced it being near the house of older sisters, the Casa de Nazaréth. That house was my Bethany at this time, in it my heart rested. It was to contemplate the fragility of the bodies worn out by love that humanized me every time I went; they questioned me with their lives about how I was living my vocation; they questioned me where the essentials of everyday life lay (in doing or in being?). Their frailties, and experiencing many departures to the House of the Father was building up in me a new way of being a Daughter of Jesus, they were confronting me with that Jesus of Nazaréth who is born in a poor manger, and who dies on a wooden cross experiencing the loneliness of the Father.

 

Your monographic work is very close to Mother Candida, and has been encouraged by these experiences that you tell us. How did that union develop?

"Yes, that's right. The title chosen:" The experience of the Incarnation, is very much united to Mother Candida. " In it I was looking at how Mother Candida in the face of the experience of health and illness (her own and that of the sisters) was making an experience of an Incarnate God. I went looking for elements that expressed the body as a way of and for God.

Without a doubt, our senses are our entrance door  so that God can come to meet us through the body. That is the experience of Mother Candida, who from the sensitivity of a woman was able to perceive the passage of God through her fragile body. She used to say: "It is necessary to look carefully and sensibly..." [3], that is, it is necessary to open our senses.

With what words do you want to express the end of this study experience that is undoubtedly a great beginning ...

Saying THANK YOU. Thanks to the Congregation that entrusted me with this mission of being able to study theology and from there offer my life to the Kingdom, thanks to the sisters who were part of my community who supported me so much with patience and joy in times of study and work (that at times are not easy). Thanks to those who were my formators in the first stage of Juniorate (Dayse and Regina Celia) who with their lives gave me pointers on how to give my life as a Daughter of Jesus from my authenticity of being Celina in fullness. Thanks to the Daughters of Jesus from Brazil, especially those from Belo Horizonte, who were the ones I lived with the most, who inspired me with their lives, who stole so many smiles, and who also pulled my ears to help me grow. Thanks to so many Daughters of Jesus who are in heaven and who humanized me.

Thanks to my family who always witnessed every step, every stumble, every dream, every hope, every joy and also every tear. Thanks to the friends that I was also meeting in this time in Brazil, they were the face of the Jesus Companion on the way who embraces you and walks by your side.

Knowing that God is Love, I wish that, as consecrated women, paraphrasing Father Arrupe, we are women in love, capable of remaining in love, and from there everything will be different. Love is that experience of getting out of ourselves; it is that opening to our poverty; it is that allowing Jesus to be born in the daily routine of our lives.

Read the full interview

[1] Plan General de Formación, 127.

[2] CFI 109

[3] MF I, 25

 

 

 

 

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