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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Apostolic by Nature
An interview with Mari Carmen Ávila

Mari Carmen Ávila
Mari Carmen Ávila

Mari Carmen Ávila was born in Mexico D.F. and is the oldest of six children. Her father was in the military and went to live in Mexico after the war, and her mother is from Puebla. Hers is a family of deeply rooted Spanish traditions, and they are very proud of telling others about their genealogy, which includes three saints: St. Francis Xavier, St. Francis Solanus and St. John of Avila.  Something which distinguishes her family is their unity and their faith life.  At Christmas, before dinner, the youngest family member places the Child Jesus in the manger, and on Good Friday everyone goes to pray the Way of the Cross at the local parish.

1. How did you get to know the movement?

I knew about it since 1971. My brothers went to the Cumbres school.  I knew the Legionaries when they were with the Jesuits and my sisters were the first generation to graduate from the Colegio del Bosque.  I was an alumna of Anahuac University.

My first experiences with the movement were with Fr. Rodero when he was still a brother in apostolic practices. He was very close to my family even when he returned to Rome, and this made a deep impression on me.  I knew the consecrated women from the Bosque school, although I must admit that the ones who attracted me more were the Legionaries, and not so much the consecrated. It took a long time for me to join the movement because I already had my prayer life and apostolate.

For the last three years of school, I was an English teacher. I studied industrial design, which is what I really like because it combines the artistic with the architectural and engineering. I like to invent. My mother offered me a job as an English teacher at the Colegio del Bosque, where I worked for six years. There I saw the consecrated women, and their “suffering” I witnessed changed the poor opinion I had had of them.

I joined the movement when I saw the change in my brothers.  To see one of them praying the rosary regularly over four years convinced me that I would join. Finally I joined at the age of 24 and I was consecrated at age 25, having slowly grown deeper in my self-giving as a member of the movement.

On the day of my confirmation, I consecrated myself spiritually to God, and gave myself to the Holy Spirit. When I joined Regnum Christi, I knew from the first moment by intuition that it would culminate in consecration.  I was going to be a co-worker stationed in Madrid, but I never made it there because God had called me to give my whole life.  

2. If this were a job interview, how would you describe yourself?

I commit myself to the end, with all the consequences, in all the details. I have to put color and references to everything. I don’t like boring things. My Outlook email is pink, and I always use distinctive fonts. I love working with a team. At times I “play the fool,” although everyone thinks I’m incredibly serious.

3. When you were little, what did you want to be?

A ballerina and a singer. My dad took me once to see a clown, and when the clown invited the audience to sing with him, I ran out to join him.

4. Tell us something that has changed in you or your vision of our life during this year we dedicated to the revision of the Statutes.

The greatest task has been to allow time for the grace of God to touch hearts, so that God and the Holy Spirit touches and uplifts souls.  Because I am very practical and I can see things clearly, I act.  This year has been the total opposite -- having to wait to give time to God and see how He touches souls to bring them where He wants them, so that they take this path in personal freedom and not because you tell them to.

5. During this time of reflection and prayer with the community, what have you learned? 

At the beginning it was brutal, because I wanted to experience something similar to what happened in the territorial assemblies. I was nervous because I didn’t know what my future would be. I spent the week before the election making acts of trust and abandonment.

It gives me a lot of joy to see people who have spent a lot of time without seeing, discovering that, in the essential and the fundamental, we are in agreement. The prayer that we made together in the chapel one day when we were reflecting on the spirit helped me, because I heard many others crying, and I see these tears as the desire that we not lose the gift that God has given us.

6. What did you feel when you were elected? Tell us what will change in your life.

God confirmed in me a desire that he had put in my heart, which is to serve and to work to build, because I always had apostolates where you had to take what was there and rebuild with patience. I felt a confirmation from God that this desire was from Him and not my own.

By nature I am much more apostolic.  To be in my office is costly.  I start climbing the walls. It hurts me in my soul to not be able to give spiritual direction. It hurts me to not have contact with people in apostolate.

7. What has been your experience working with the other branches of the movement?

Working with the consecrated men, for me it has been a total discovery, because in our life we never shared a word with them.  With the Legionaries there has always been a special appreciation. God asked a lot of me to be spiritually close to them, to speak to them and to tell them what I see, what I think and feel.  It has helped me a lot to give them encouragement, to help them raise their eyes, and bring them hope and confidence.

8. How did the presence of the members of the other branches contribute to the assembly?

It helped us to better know Fr. Sylvester.  He is very human and “normal.” That helped us not to create barriers or difficulties.  Jorge Lopez and Felix Gomez Rueda showed a lot of interest and real appreciation. Iliano Piccolo put himself deeply into everything and gave some extremely valuable comments, showing a real care and affection for us.

9. What do you envision for the next 6 years?

It’s a new stage, where what we see on the horizon is to build and go forward. I get excited about the work of the council because I know the other members well and they are people that I can work with in a team. I also get excited about being able to show the affection I feel for the movement and the consecrated women.

10. Give us four key words for this new page of our history that we are beginning to write.

Raise up

11. What would you most like to share or impart to the other consecrated members? Do you have some message for them?

For me, the basis of all this is in the encounter with Love and the response in love, and that I hope every one of us is centered on this.

Mari Carmen studied industrial design at the Anahuac University and also has a licentiate degree in education and development. She has served apostolically in Rome, Switzerland, France, Spain and Mexico directing educational institutes, and working with young people and adults for 22 years. She has also collaborated in the formation of consecrated women. She has been a member of the general council for a year and a half. She is 54 years old and has been consecrated for 29 years.



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