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Turn to Jesus (Article)

A Woman in Love
Cassandra Wolfe, a consecrated woman of Regnum Christi, shares her memories of Mari Carmen Perochena who had a big share in her own vocation.

Cassandra Wolfe
Women have a special capacity to love, but women who consecrate their lives to Jesus Christ do so in a distinct way. Consecrated women do not care for or watch their own children grow, but they have a special bond with each of them forever. Mari Carmen Perochena lived this exceptionally. As one of the first consecrated women in the Regnum Christi Movement she was instrumental in many people’s lives. She was a woman in the way she loved and was a woman because she loved.

Mari Carmen recently passed away after a 20 month battle lung cancer. For her, this illness was a manifestation of God’s love and she used it to continue loving her souls, those entrusted to her care. She shows us that those touched by a consecrated woman are bound to her forever through love in silence, prayer and suffering. I experienced this firsthand over the last six years. As I went from being a troubled and disgruntled volunteer to consecrating my life to God in Regnum Christi, Mari Carmen Perochena was my guardian angel.

I began a year of volunteer service under her care. When I started this endeavor I did not know much about Regnum Christi. I had reluctantly discerned my vocation to the consecrated life. My discernment left me confused, not wanting to be consecrated, though deep down I knew what God wanted from me. I spent a year in Atlanta working with young women during this unstable period. As my director and spiritual guide, Mari Carmen sensed that behind my adamant fight, God could be calling me to be his own. She sensed it was not my time. She patiently listened to me in spiritual direction, softly corrected my errors, and let me find myself and God. I remember countless afternoons of her stories about the beginning of the consecrated life in Regnum Christi, with pictures of her encounters with John Paul II. Every action was a seed sown in my heart. Her love was never loud or pushy; it was like that of a mother who wants the best for her children.

At the beginning of the summer of 2002, I resolved to go home after camps and missions, but later, during World Youth Day in Toronto, I made the decision to stay in Atlanta for another year. The decision was hard, and when I got back I found out Mari Carmen was leaving Atlanta. Her silent, penetrating love was more than enough to make me choke up when I heard she would not be around for my second year. Well, I thought she would not be around, but she kept close. She silently loved me and waited for God to speak to my heart as she prayed for my vocation.

And she did pray. During my second year in Atlanta, Mari Carmen was in Rhode Island as a teacher and spiritual guide for the consecrated women in formation. Her love in prayer was also silent; only after I was consecrated did I discover she would ask the consecrated members in her classes to pray for a “certain co-worker” who was discerning her vocation. When someone asks you to pray for something it is because she has it in her heart and prayer. In December of 2002 the graces of her prayers flooded my heart and I was able to say ‘yes’ to God’s call to give my life to him. His grace comes through intercession. Mari Carmen was in a new place, with new souls, but those from before were still part of her. My life and vocation are forever linked with her life and vocation. My life was further linked to her prayer with the opportunity to help her with little things around the house after I was consecrated. Every time I had something needing serious prayers I would go to her office and ask her to pray for the intention. Grace comes through prayer, as well as through sacrifice and suffering.

Mari Carmen took Christ’s words, “if you want to follow me you must take up your cross daily,” quite literally, as we all should. Long before her cancer was diagnosed the grace to accept my vocation came from her sacrifice for me; she offered small details in her day to God for me and others who crossed her path, that no one saw. The last 20 months of her life were a constant, noble, testimony of suffering for souls. It was impossible to guess she was sick before we knew she had cancer. She played basketball and Frisbee with us, came to our meals, continued to attend people in spiritual direction, gave classes, traveled to Rome to work on her doctorate and more. She always had a smile on her face or a word of wisdom for anyone passing by her room. Mari Carmen suffered, but she did so joyfully because of her intense union with Jesus Christ. The last few months of her life did not allow her to be as active as she was in the past, but her love culminated in suffering.

I was afraid of following Jesus Christ because I was afraid to fail and let him down. I did not think I could ever be happy, but the love of Jesus Christ through Mari Carmen Perochena melted my heart. She was a woman in love with Jesus Christ and in the way she loved. I am just one on a long list of people Mari Carmen has touched, but I do not care. I am on the list and I know that once you get on a list like that you cannot be taken off!



Related articles
- The death of Mari Carmen Perochena, consecrated woman of Regnum Christi
- She transmitted God to anyone she met.

Related links

Official web site of the Vatican.
Legionaries of Christ
For Your Vocation
Mater Ecclesaie College

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