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?
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
Give us four key words to write on this new
page of our history.
more would you like to share with the other consecrated
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.