CIRCUMSTANCES DO NOT MATTER…WE SAY YES!
We -Angelica Gomez (Mexican) and Onelia Lopez (Guatemalan)- want to share what it means to profess our temporary vows during this pandemic in the Congregation Dominican Missionary Sisters of the Rosary. It has been an event where we have felt welcomed, supported and empowered by God and by all the sisters in the Congregation.
Since our first call in this walk with Jesus along with our brothers and sisters, we realized that we are women with a whole history and family and cultural richness, who were invited to be a gift for the rest. With this deep experience of encountering God, we decided to say YES to live the evangelical councils from the congregational charisma.
Our temporary vows’ celebration has been marked by uncertainty, one of the characteristic feelings of this time. First, they were supposed to be celebrated in the community where Onelia comes from, in San Francisco, municipality of San Miguel Chicaj, located in Baja Verapaz department, Guatemala. It had been chosen because it was a community of native people, whom we feel identified. The sisters in charge had already made all the agreements with the local community and family. However, by lockdown’s restrictions established in the country, we had to assume that it would not be possible to celebrate it in the chosen community. For that reason, from a communitarian perspective, we opted for a plan “A”, which meant a more internal celebration with and in zone 9 community. Days passed and restrictions became stricter, so considering that the country had strong restrictions on weekends, we had to create a plan “B”, which meant to celebrate our vows in our community, ‘El Limon.’
The painful pandemic’s reality hit us every day, presenting a new hint and sense to our consecration, inviting us again and again to just keep what was fundamental of our vows. This made the liturgy’s preparation -in collaboration with our community- to be marked by hop, joy, simplicity and its meaning. In every moment we felt directly supported by our sisters in the country. One week before the celebration we received the confirmation that it was going to be possible to celebrate our temporary vows with our sisters from zone 9. It made us happy.
The reality prevented us from inviting people who are close to us: sisters, relatives and friends who wanted to accompany us. It was not possible for them, just like many other people who we have met in the places where we have shared our life and mission in Guatemala. It was a situation that at first caused us to be worried and sad. Nevertheless, God always surprises us and while we were preparing this event, we discovered and reaffirmed God’s joy and grace that accompany us and express themselves in interventions and concrete faces.
On the celebration’s day we confirmed God’s expression in many sisters of the congregation, relatives, friends and other people who through media and social networks accompanied us.
We started full of joy because the day had come! In the entrance’s procession we were accompanied by our sister Pilar Baratech as reference of the first missionary women who arrived at Guatemala.
The central message of the Liturgy was focused on the mission received by God and how it was sent to make it real in the suffering people: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people…so I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptian” (Exodus 3:4-10). “The Lord took me…and the Lord said to me ‘Go, prophesy to My people’” (Amos 7, 12-15). “To follow Jesus is to search for his footprints in the historic path.” (fragment of the book “Una mujer que hace historia” by Nieves Campion). “They came and saw where he was staying and remained with Him that day” (John 1, 35-39). Based on these texts the homily was enriched by the participation of many sisters of the province and Father Jesus Rodriguez IM.
We wanted to integrate in the liturgy celebration some Maya elements presented in our identity, expressing the richness of their cosmovision as well as the richness presented in the diversity of the Congregation, fruit of the enculturation of the Gospel.
In the offertory -in the altar inspired by the Maya spirituality- accepted the four cardinal points: in the east, where every day the sun is born, we offered ourselves as symbol of our deliver and commitment. In the west, where the sun sets, we offered the face of a suffering world. In the north, place of wisdom and the ancestors, we offered our martyr sisters and along with them Mother Ascension Nicol and Monsignor Ramon Zubieta, examples of the testimony of following Jesus. In the south, where we delight of our mother earth’s generosity and abundance and the lives of people, we offered a piece of fabric, which symbolizes our walk. In the center, where heaven and earth’s hearts are represented, we offered bread and wine as center of our Christian faith.
The chosen songs were the singing expression of what this event meant in our lives and at the same time to intensify the hope based in the experience of a God that reveals himself amidst uncertainty, bewilderment, pain and helplessness.
To finish the sharing of our experience we can say that we feel deeply grateful to God and with everybody who made possible that the celebration was experiential and full of details that were engraved in our heart and that will accompany our walk as missionary disciples of the Kingdom.
Angélica Gómez y Onelia López