Meet the Consecrated Women Building the Future in Mexico’s Mano Amiga Schools
Education is one of the key pillars in the development of individuals, families, and society. For that reason, the act of bringing the opportunity for education to the poorest sectors of society is indispensable in the search for social justice. This is the mission of the Mano Amiga Schools, a network of educational centers run by Regnum Christi that has offered a quality, Catholic values-based education designed to break the cycle of poverty since 1963. The goal is to transform society by providing a high level of education to children who otherwise couldn’t afford it. There are currently 20 locations in the country of Mexico with 12,250 students from preschool to high school.
Many Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi live their mission in these schools, offering an integral formation according to the four dimensions of the person: spiritual, intellectual, human, and social.
Working for the mission of the schools
Rosario Guerra, who recently celebrated 40 years of consecration, collaborates with the Mano Amiga Mexico national ministry team and is in charge of ensuring that each location lives the Catholic faith and the charism of Regnum Christi. She carries out this work in collaboration with a large team of individuals.
They look at aspects of formation and training, in addition to everything related to the connections among the Mano Amiga schools, the Regnum Christi localities, and the local Church.
Our schools cannot be understood without the mission and vision of integral Catholic formation and values, achieved through the pastoral activity which Pope Francis frequently speaks about to us.”
Rosario Guerra, Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi
Rosario shares that one of the keys to being able to fulfill the mission that the schools have is offering personal attention to each student, to their family and circumstances, in order to achieve their integral formation.
Impacting the Community
Bertha del Toro is in charge of advising and accompanying the executive and academic teams of three schools, in order to the help them to improve in their professional work and overcome the daily challenges that present themselves.
She sees her work as laying a path to facilitate the growth of the Kingdom of Christ in the hearts of others.
As part of her doctoral studies in the direction of education centers, Bertha carried out a collaborative project to respond to specific situations that arise inside and outside the Mano Amiga Conkal School in Merida, Mexico, forming a team from different sectors of the school, involving students, professors, and school staff.
One of the actions consisted in developing a campaign to motivate the inhabitants of Conkal to take preventative actions to try to eradicate mosquitos causing the transmission of ZIKA virus.
By means of surveys, house to house visits, and promoting preventative actions, the team lead by Bertha documented that the commitment of the visited communities increased, and they were able to implement practices that reduced the population of the mosquitos transmitting the ZIKA virus by 40%.
In another of the projects that Bertha directed, a team made up of high school students analyzed various situations that they could improve in the school. Parents, staff, and teachers joined the effort, and together they set the goal of building a roofed cafeteria that would allow them to socialize and avoid the intense heat .
By presentations on the projects and the filming of a video, they began a campaign to raise money. After three months of work they were able to build the dining room.
This process convinced the students and the education community that they can make a difference and have an impact where they are, with their own actions. They can contribute collectively and effectively to social change. This left a mark on their professional and social future.”
Bertha del Toro, Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi
Experience at the service of others
Michelle Gow works in the Mano Amiga Santa Catarina School in Nuevo Leon in pastoral ministry, giving Catholic formation classes and formation classes about love to high school girls.
She has 23 years of experience working in schools in Brazil, the United States, and Mexico. This has lead her to develop the necessary empathy for accompanying teachers and leadership teams.
Through a specialization in school catechesis, her career allows her to contribute to the meaning and importance of academic professionalism while teaching the faith.
If the academic foundation is covered, catechesis and pastoral activities develop with greater depth and spontaneity. It is a natural path, going from learning about God to wanting to commit oneself to Him.”
Michelle Gow, Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi
Michelle has gotten to know people who give themselves fully to the mission in the Mano Amiga Schools, living their professional lives like missionaries, with great love and commitment to the students and their families. In them she finds part of the inspiration to continue giving herself to God and to work to establish his Kingdom.
In Mexico she has met students with a great desire to study and succeed in life. Those desires were blocked by a lack of opportunities, due to the economic situation of each person. She sincerely believes that we have to find the ways to bring about equality of opportunity, for all those students who want to try and make their contribution to the world.
Helping people encounter Christ
Lourdes Olvera began her work in Mano Amiga Conkal, Mérida, in 2020, in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, where she began spiritually accompanying the elementary and high school girls, in addition to promoting, organizing, and running ECYD.
Her responsibility is looking after the formation of the ECYD team leaders and involving moms in the activities. As part of the pastoral ministry team of the school, she also promotes and organizes retreats and spiritual formation.
She remembers one activity she organized in particular. It was a pilgrimage of all the school personnel to the Sanctuary of Our Lady Undoer of Knots in Cancun. The experiences and the way everyone was involved in the organization helped to strengthen them as one heart and one body. During the pilgrimage they were able to contemplate their past, reflect on the present, and define what they wanted for the future. Times of conversation, prayer, meditation, and mass – these encouraged the participants to share their own experience with Our Lady and the reflections made in prayer.
We should help our teachers to connect with the needs of the students, with their reality. They should accompany them on this journey with its many challenges. They should discover their ideals and keep growing in their capacity to dream, to rise up to be men and women of truth and goodness.”
Lourdes Olvera, Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi
Accompanying in every moment
Paula Errazuriz works at Mano Amiga Lerma, in the state of Mexico. As part of her work in the pastoral ministry of the school, she offers guidance to the school personel and families on personal, human, and spiritual topics through one-on-one meetings.
She also works in organizing and developing the spiritual retreats and school spirit talks. She is also part of the Pastoral Council of the school network.
Through accompaniment Paula works every day to help the people who work at Mano Amiga to encounter God, to not lose themselves among the activities and duties of their work, and to live well in a fast-pace society filled with distractions.
She knows very well that in God we have the best companion and confidant to give us rest amid the overwhelming stress.
In my work I can touch the dreams that people have, the pains and suffering that they face every day, which are many, and in which they need to find strength and meaning.”
Paula Errazuriz, Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi
She works with the personnel who work in administration and has seen how they have developed and grown as people, in their faith and in their work, thanks to the formation that the school offers them.
Paula has also been a witness to the work of the teachers. She called them “true heroes” when she saw how the pandemic presented them with enormous challenges and demanded creativity to continue giving classes and keep the students active.
Overcoming the challenges of the pandemic
Guadalupe Prince works on the Mano Amiga development team, securing scholarships and creating partnerships with individuals and institutions to meet the concrete necessities of the students and schools.
All the work that Mano Amiga and the Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi carry out would not be possible without the support of benefactors who support this cause so that more children and families of very limited resources can access a quality education and Christian values formation.
Despite the fact that her work in Mano Amiga was obstructed by the beginning of the pandemic and the financial impact on the companies and individuals who support the educational institution, she found many people who were willing to help the cause. She witnessed how much people value education for the poorest in society.
One concrete challenge was furnishing each of the students with a mobile device so that they could have classes during the health crisis. In addition to the challenge of converting curricula and schedules to a virtual environment, Mano Amiga faced the challenge of the families’ inability to buy a computer or tablet to continue their classes from home.
They launched a fundraising campaign for desktop computers, laptops, tablets and even cell phones that would allow the students to connect and be able to take their classes virtually.
Little by little the campaign raised the necessary money and thanks to God and the support of benefactors, the students received their devices.
We must try to make education more accessible to all children and achieve a lower rate of school dropouts.”
Guadalupe Prince, Consecrated Woman of Regnum Christi
Thousands of children and families have passed through the classrooms of Mano Amiga schools, a network that opens doors to them to find opportunities for authentic human, social, professional, and spiritual development. In this field of action, in this missionary territory, this group of Consecrated Women of Regnum Christi live their charism and their apostolic mission every day, bringing future generations to an encounter with Christ.
To support this mission with financial help, tax deductible donations can be made here.
Translated from the original Spanish article, which can be read here.