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Remembering Maria del Rosario

Oct. 5, 1939 - May 20, 2022

I loved Maria very much… these words have poured in above all from Argentina, Italy, Mexico, and the United States, all the lands where she lived and served with a missionary spirit of joy and dedication. The wonderful thing is that it is mutual. Maria loved very much.

Maria del Rosario loved her family, her parents and siblings, nieces, and nephews. She loved her childhood in Mexico City and frequently shared stories of her upbringing with great pride in her family history. From her childhood, Maria had a heart for the poor, which ultimately led her to seek to be a Social Worker. She studied in Italy with the initial intention of returning immediately to Mexico City to serve there.

But God had other plans.

Maria loved Italy. She was grateful for the education she received in Padua, but most especially grateful for the Fr. Kolbe Missionaries of the Immaculata, whom she found while studying. She put her plans aside, to follow God’s plan for her as a Missionary. The Kolbean spirituality filled her heart, in particular, of course, the total consecration to Mary as a victim with apostolic intent. This would fuel the years of mission that followed in Argentina.

Maria loved Argentina. Ana Isabel was the first Argentinian to join the Institute and was Maria who first reached out to her. She loved working with the poor families and children. After serving in Argentina, she went back to Italy. Always ready to go where the Lord called.

In Italy, she served on the General Council of the Institute, and it was then that she had her first connection to the United States. She met Ann O’Donnell and invited (and persisted in inviting her) to be a Fr. Kolbe Missionary. We know that story, and give thanks to God for the Institute’s presence here these past 39 years. Also from Italy, she traveled to Lagos, Nigeria – where she planted the seed for more vocations. Agatha, the first Nigerian missionary, is very grateful for her presence in her missionary journey.

Maria was sent to serve in the United States in 1995.

Maria loved the United States. She served exclusively in the States for five years, working with the Spanish speaking population, but also going door-to-door, offering Bible classes, etc. And, while God would call her to the mission in Maneadero, she continued a part of the community here in West Covina for a total of 27 years.

In 2000, her heart’s desire was fulfilled. She received permission to serve the people of Mexico, especially the poor, and moved to Maneadero. She loved Mexico. She loved Maneadero. It was with great joy and satisfaction that she told the stories of children growing up and going to college, the choir flourishing, and having catechism lessons in a trailer. It was with equal sorrow that she shared stories of poverty, material and spiritual, that she worked so hard to relieve.

And then she was gone.

We are grateful to God that Maria didn’t suffer long, but she left many of us wishing for one last “My Friend!” “My Sister!” “My Niña!” Then again, that’s how it always is when one is so loved and admired.

Maria was an amazing example of the four pillars of consecration lived out.

She had a real relationship with the Lord, and turned to Christ often with the words, “Jesus, I trust in you!” The amount of work she had to do did not prevent her from putting her life of prayer first. In the last six months, not feeling well, she gave thanks to God for giving her the energy to at least attend Mass and Holy Hour. “Her” Jesus always came first, and it was he that sustained Maria so faithfully. In fact, she greeted Jesus with the heart of a child, beginning her journal entries with “Hello Jesus, it’s Maria!”

Maria was obedient to her Institute, Church, and Lord – though in the Institute it was sometimes with great creativity and a lot of dialogue! Her charity was truly heroic. She put aside her own comforts and desires to help those in need with hardly a second thought. She suffered the daily ups and downs, her poor circulation, and various maladies over the years with much serenity… a serenity that grew with the years.  

All in all, her life was a true consecration to Mary.

All this is true, and we give thanks to God for her great example. However, let us not forget her mischievous and playful side. She was content eating out of the back of a pick-up truck or fine dining with a good friend. Maria could, and would, sing anthems from all the countries she claimed as her own. She was also a good athlete and would play ball with the spirit of a teenager – or spar with a partner using whatever stick was at hand. If a missionary was working very hard, frustrated, or burning out -or if she just wanted a partner in crime- she would encourage them to take a break.

So much could be said, but I leave that up to you to share with one another. Allow me to close with a request. Please pray for the soul of Maria, that she may rest in peace. Pray for the people of Maneadero, who are without their sister and mother. And pray for the Institute, that it may cherish the legacy of Maria del Rosario, and receive many more vocations to fill her big shoes!

Thank You

 

 

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