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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Giving Everything to God
An interview with Denise Funke

Denise Funke
Denise Funke

Denise Funke was born in Canada. She has two sisters, one who is five years older than her and the other five years younger.  She also has two brothers, one older than her and one younger. Her family life was very enriching. She remembers with affection that her dad enjoyed six weeks of vacation every year, a time which he took advantage of to travel with the whole family. During two of these family trips they went from Canada to Mexico, and ever since then her dad sings ‘Las Mananitas’ on birthdays. They enjoy being together and playing board games.

1. How did you get to know the movement?

I was the first Canadian consecrated woman. I got to know Regnum Christi when I worked in the pro-life movement. I worked at my university and traveled around giving talks about sexuality, and I crossed paths with the Legionaries. One day they invited me to a retreat.

I studied education on the advice of my father, to ensure a good professional future, to please my family and because I love kids, although my dream was to study sports medicine.  During my studies for my degree I saw the need to know my faith more, because it was a very liberal university concerning everything related to sexuality. This made me suffer, and made it necessary for me to search for the truth. 

After I got to know the Legionaries, I thought that it would be a great help for me to give a year of service to the Church. I went on the retreat to discern if this was what God wanted, but at that moment, God called me to give him my whole life, to consecrate myself to him. He changed all my plans, and I told him yes.

The most surprising of all was when I went to tell this to my parents. I was afraid because I never made hasty decisions, and my mom told me that she already knew, that she had an intuition that God would ask something of me, and she wasn’t surprised.

2. What have you learned during your experience in the first General Assembly of consecrated women?

At first I had to get used to the idea that we would be 42 people. That is to say, there were a lot of people that would have to be able to express themselves and speak about important topics.

The first days were difficult. At times, what I heard I didn’t understand, or I didn’t like it, or it didn’t interest me, and this made me uneasy.  Afterward I felt that God was inviting me to clarify my doubts, to draw nearer to each one to understand them and create bonds.

I am shy and it costs me to go out of myself towards others, but I did it and this changed my whole experience of the assembly. This was how I got close to each one, and with her I would share her doubts, her sufferings, new and good opinions, and this changed my experience and opened my horizons. I understood that we can have different opinions while maintaining a strong unity in what is essential, and that we are in a process of adaptation to this reality.

I also experienced the peace of knowing that God always goes out to meet us where we are and in the conditions in which he finds us. We are at this moment in our history. We are walking step by step with patience and without perfectionism. God works through diversity, in a big group, through our defects and qualities.

3. What were your feelings upon being elected? When the Cardinal asked you if you would accept, what did you think about? Explain to us how this will really change in your life.  What do you have to say to those you are leaving behind?

God prepared me spiritually, although humanly my heart was sobbing because he asked me for everything.

This year I was happy where I was, with my work in the school and helping support other schools. I was happy with my team and the relationships with each one of my companions.  It was the first time in my consecrated life that I had been assigned to a place where I could have a direct flight to visit my family.  Before the voting took place I was counting the days to return to Dallas, to be with my team. And on Wednesday, when I was elected, I realized that my life would change from this moment on.

Before the voting, there were some conversations where I was asked if I would accept, and I felt God asking me, “Will you do it?” I knew that I had to exercise detachment, given that my call occurred while reading the passage of Abraham with Isaac.  I even made a list of what it would cost me to leave if he asked me, and I told him, “I love you more than all this, if you want it, I will do it, not because I like it, but because you want it.” I want to be the spouse who is ready to give herself.  And I would like to be able to say that with joy, but that presupposes a great spiritual effort.  When I went down to the assembly room for the voting, I was at peace.

I don’t feel capable of fulfilling my mission. I don’t know why they voted for me, but I am here to serve.

4. How did you tell your family that you had been elected? How did they react?

I have parents that I don’t deserve. I called them and put them on speaker phone. They were in the kitchen preparing breakfast, distracted and waiting. They sat down and asked me, “What do you have to tell us?” I stayed silent, and then told them, “This summer, when you buy a plane ticket for my family visit, buy it from Rome, not from Dallas.” And my mother told me, “Oh! You were elected,” and I told her yes, and she broke down crying.

My father consoled me and said, “Each day has troubles of its own. We prayed a lot for you every day.” Then there was a moment of silence and he told me, “Listen…We didn’t have to pray that much.” And afterward they asked me if they could come have their next visit in seven years, given that in the past it was the norm that we followed as consecrated women. I told them no, this practice has already been changed, and they told me, “OK.”

5. What do you look forward to for the next six years?

The truth is that externally, there is nothing now that I look forward to or that appeals to me.  Not even living in Rome. What excites me is giving everything to God and to tell Him that this is for You. This is what has made me experience a great spiritual joy.

6. Give us four key words to write on this new page of our history.


7. What more would you like to share with the other consecrated women? 

That I am here to listen.

I would also like to say that we have learned that the consecrated life -- in the dimensions of the personal, as well as in the community mission -- is lived out in a specific location.  I hope that, as a government, we can work with this vision.  We can only react and help with that which comes to us from each location, without being in the territory where everything is in play.

Denise has a licentiate degree in education and development from the Anahuac University.  She has worked apostolically in Mexico, Ireland, and the United States in educational institutions and in the formation of consecrated women in pre-candidacies and centers of formation. Before attending the General Assembly, she was the director of formation at the Highlands School in Dallas and a member of the territorial council of the United States.  She is 42 years old and has been consecrated for 21 years. 



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