MEMORIES OF OUR FATHER FOUNDER: MONSIGNOR RAMON ZUBIETA Y LES
When I entered the Congregation in October 1949, I was fortunate to meet people who had known our founders and were striving to share their experiences with the new vocations of the Congregation.
A crucial sister in this information was M. Teresa Lazaro, who, with great affection for the founders, transmitted with enthusiasm and love for them, what she had shared with them.
We were also visited by Fr. Osende who communicated his reverence, affection and memory of our admirable Father Founder “A colossus in difficulties and a child’s heart in his relationships” At that time, the biography of the “P. Zubieta”, written by Fr. Wenceslao Fernández, the tireless companion of Mgr. Zubieta in the Amazon jungle, was read and commented on with enthusiasm especially by those who knew and admired the values of his person.
Three years after my arrival in Peru, in 1959, 38 years after the death of our Father Founder, I was assigned to the community of Santa Rosa de Huacho. There I met elderly sisters who had known Msgr. Zubieta and who spoke of him with true admiration, gratitude and affection, praising his great spirit and his great love for the newly founded congregation. “Mgr. Zubieta never spared any sacrifice for the good of the sisters”.
One of the first joys I received shortly after my arrival was that I was taken to the room where our Father died at the age of 57, three years after the foundation of our Congregation.
He had traveled from Lima to Huacho to inspect the construction work being done for the new novitiate in Peru; he knew that it did not respond to what he had ordered. When he arrived, he spoke to Mr. Pitaluga and Mr. Figueroa, men he trusted, (whom I eventually met) who ordered the demolition to satisfy the wishes of the Bishop.
Msgr. wanted the works to be made of cement and found some very poor and very rustic works, made of adobe when he wanted them to be made of cement; in one of those rooms about 3.50 meters long by 2.50 meters wide, with a small high window for ventilation, is where he received the Holy Sacraments and the last call of the Lord on November 19th, 1921.
The visits of the sisters to this room were continuous, to reflect in silence and to ask the Lord for the Father, remembering his love and hoping that, like Our Father St. Dominic “from heaven he would be more useful to us”. We prayed and remembered the sacrifice of his life given “for the good of the souls” his great missionary spirit, asking him to help us maintain in the Congregation that spirit that he desired so much for us, whose obsession was “to save souls for Christ”, at the same time we asked for the increase of vocations that could realize his desires, missionaries dedicated to the propagation of the faith, helping the formation of women and the most needy.
We see this expressed in a letter he wrote to Fr. Sarasola on 10 November 1921, a few days before his death:” How much I would give to have personnel soon to meet the needs of Peru, Central America, and the South, and then to have young people well formed, with a true religious and missionary spirit to send to the missions in the East, China, and Japan.
As far as the missionaries are concerned, I have a lot of faith in the education they give to the young girls in that novitiate house in Pamplona…I hope we can send a legion of apostles throughout the Americas and Asia.
I, who know how little I have done for the salvation of souls, am delirious with enthusiasm to see two hundred well-educated nuns and fervent missionaries, filled with the spirit of Our Father St. Dominic, founding twenty houses in which thousands and thousands of souls are saved…
It will be something like madness, because I believe that the salvation of religious faith in Peru… and all over the world is entrusted to women missionaries to a certain extent, more than to men missionaries, although they could do nothing without them.”
Today, nothing remains of the room where he died. In the earthquake of October 1964, it was completely destroyed, as well as the chapel construction in which he worked so enthusiastically.
In March of that year, I was assigned to Piura and when we learned the time of the earthquake at 4:30 in the evening, I was scared thinking that it was the time in October when the whole school was praying the Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament; but Providence was with us. The chaplain informed us that the exposition would be anticipated that day because he could not go at the usual time; at the time of the earthquake, all the students had left the school early, thus avoiding a great disaster.
(Certainly, the Lord received a little girl, daughter of Dr Murphi who had returned to collect her tools at the time of the earthquake.)
Let us thank God for such a great Father and pray that his missionary spirit becomes a reality in each and every one of the sisters of the Congregation.
Sister M. Pilar Garrués