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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Forty Years of Consecration to Christ
The first consecrated women reflect on lessons learned in their 40-year journey of faith.

first consecrated women
Some of the first consecrated members. Guadalupe Magaña (far left), Patricia Bannon (third from left), and Margarita Estrada (fifth from left).

By Melica Antonio

December 8th, 2009, marks the 40th anniversary of the founding of women´s consecrated life in Regnum Christi. On December 8, 1969, Margarita Estrada and the sisters Guadalupe and Graciela Magaña consecrated their lives to Christ in Tlapa, Mexico, while in Dublin, Ireland, Patricia Bannon made her spiritual consecration. Patricia later made her formal consecration in August of 1970 in a house called “Voewood,” which served as the first formation center for consecrated women.

Forty years later, Margarita, Guadalupe, and Patricia share their memories with us.

A step of faith

“I remember everything from that day,” Guadalupe comments about the day of her consecration. “The people around me, the dress I was wearing, my place in the chapel, the nerves that were attacking me. I was looking forward to a new adventure, without any desire to look back. I felt mixed sentiments: joy of surrender, the pain of letting go… A new door to a new horizon was being opened to me; totally new, but totally sustained by Christ.”

Margarita remembers “the simplicity of the moment, the interior joy I felt, increased by the lack of an exterior celebration,” given that the ceremony of consecration took place without guests or
Voewood, the first formation center for consecrated women in Dublin, Ireland.
fanfare. “Nothing could distract me from what was most important: the offering my life to God for the salvation of souls.” 

“I remember putting my vocation into the hands of Mary, asking her to take care of it and to help me to live it in the best way possible,” says Patricia. “That night, one of my companions made me a carrot cake, and carrot cake has been one of my favorite desserts ever since!”

Margarita and Guadalupe first heard about consecrated life in the Movement from Fr Carlos Mora LC (1929-2006), who stopped in their hometowns and visited their families. Margarita felt attracted to the vocation because, “it fulfilled all my aspirations: my desire to do good for others, to be an apostle, to receive a solid formation. Fr Mora explained consecrated life to me and warmly invited me to respond freely. I think the vocation also attracted me because of the type of character I have: I love the adventure of starting something new, of taking on a worthwhile challenge.”

“Lay consecrated life in the Movement was not yet a reality when God called me to it,” says Patricia Bannon. “It captivated me because I had to look at it and accept it with faith, and that´s how I´ve always tried to live it… Once I had had a personal experience with Christ, once I had discovered that he loved me and that I could talk to him in every moment, I was conquered. Christ offered me a personal and intimate relationship, and I have tried to be faithful to him ever since. I think of so many people who don´t know him, and I want them to encounter him and experience my same joy.”


But one thing is the excitement with which one initiates a new life; another
Margarita Estrada with religious sister
Margarita Estrada helping with a retreat for religious sisters.
thing is to persevere in it for forty years. Has their concept of consecrated life matured with the passing of time?

“Without a doubt,” says Guadalupe. “It´s been a constant learning process, in spite of the fact that from the beginning I understood clearly what the essence of consecrated life was. A lot of external factors have been perfected through the years. We learn to walk as we go walking. And without the fidelity of God, where would I be? My fidelity without his fidelity means nothing. I´m convinced he will never be unfaithful to me, even if I stumble and fall on the way.” 

Margarita adds, “For me, to live consecrated life is to belong more and more to God each day, only to God and to see all things through God. It´s to arrive to the point of being able to say what Saint Therese of the Child Jesus would say: I belong more to Him than to myself.”

Rewards and lessons

In the Gospel of Matthew 19:29, Christ promises a hundredfold reward to those who leave everything to follow him. Have they also experienced this satisfaction while still on the earth? 

Guadalupe answers, “I have experienced God´s love in a deep and intimate way; I feel an intense and profound joy, even when the cross is present.” Margarita says, “My reward is the joy of knowing and loving God, of being able to surrender my life for the things he loves; the Church and souls. My reward is the joy of being able to love and to do good to others.”

And what have they learned from forty years of apostolic work, carried out in diverse cultural and social contexts in several countries? Margarita is currently serving in Monterrey, Mexico, as a territorial coordinator for Instituto DAR, an apostolate whose mission is to strengthen, form, and renew the ideal of consecrated life. The most beautiful lesson she has learned is: “I am an instrument of God´s love,” nothing more and nothing less.

Guadalupe, who works in Mexico City as a teacher for several catechetical institutes, adds: “I consider that my place
Patricia Bannon
Patricia Bannon: “God´s fidelity is now the sure anchor of my life. He is faithful; he does not change. His fidelity does not depend on mine, but sustains it."
in the Mystical Body is this: I´m simply a grain of sand in the great work of the third degree and the Regnum Christi Movement. This has been my conviction since my days in Dublin.” 

Live the joy of today

Patricia is currently a professor and spiritual guide in the formation center for consecrated women in Monterrey, Mexico, but spent many years helping the Movement establish schools in Spain and Mexico.

“Some years ago, I was working as the dean of studies in a girls’ school in Spain. I loved spending time with the students, but obviously spent more time with the older girls, the ones in junior high and high school. ‘I have years ahead to spend with the younger ones,’ I rationalized. But during Christmas break, one of our first graders died in a car accident.  As I contemplated her little coffin during her funeral, I thought: ‘She´s already with God.’ She was a soul who had passed through my hands, and God had only given me four months to help him shape her life.”

“From that moment on, I realized that I could not control the future. I will never know how much time God gives me for each soul, nor how much time I will work in a certain apostolate, nor how much time remains of my own existence. I can only love in the present moment: I have to help the souls of today, carry the cross of today, live the joy of today. It was a hard lesson, but I am grateful, because the memory of this experience keeps me from falling into routine and mediocre self-giving,” she said.

“God´s fidelity is now the sure anchor of my life. He is faithful; he does not change. His fidelity does not depend on mine, but sustains it. He is the rock on which we build our life together and write a story of love that will last for all eternity.”



Related links

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

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