Carmelita, as we call her, is a very significant woman for many Peruvian Sisters and the people of Peru. Her testimony - in these lines - delves into spirituality and her commitment to non-violence: a way of dealing with systemic violence, inequalities and injustices.
Sister María del Carmen Monroy CCVI, born in Mexico, came to Peru almost 27 years ago to teach us – through her lived witness - that only through inclusion can we build real communities that seek to build the Kingdom of God here and now.
Since the beginnings of my religious life in 1974 I have been formed in a corporate spirit where I was encouraged to share my thoughts or life experiences, but I also received many gifts from contact with my older Sisters who from their illness or old age encouraged me to look beyond what my eyes could see. There were difficult times, but at the same time they challenged us, they opened new paths for us to explore, gradually recovering the life that for a time had fallen asleep.
I can say with sincerity and gratitude that I have been very fortunate since my life resembles in some way that of Abraham, who was invited to leave what he knew and go in search of the fulfillment of the promises of God to make him father of a great people. I also left my land and have continued to follow my path to the present day, seeking day after day the signs of God’s creative presence.
When I became aware of diversity I was able to experience a lot of joy. Knowing different things encouraged me to look for creative ways of encounter. I was confirmed in my belief that the Holy Trinity did well to make its home among us, in order to express to the world and to the Church that love, reconciliation, and a tender embrace is possible as a tangible presence of God.
During these 40 years as a Sister of Charity of the Incarnate Word, I have heard the continuous call to live unity in diversity, to create bridges of communion and participation. This has inspired me on my spiritual path to contemplate four icons: the Ark of the Covenant, the Holy Trinity, the Incarnation of the Word and Pentecost. Each one has been very important since they continue to motivate me to seek fruitfulness in community life and witness.
Having had the opportunity to live in different communities both nationally and internationally has become a great joy in my life since it has broadened my horizons and opened me up to multiculturalism which I have embraced with all its challenges. It also has been an opportunity to be protagonist of history, not only congregational but also the Church, in the world and as part of this cosmos.
It has been in the community setting that my sense of belonging and missionary spirit has been revitalized, continually listening to the words of the Gospel of Luke and making them mine: “He sent me to bring the Good News to the poor, to announce release of the captives and sight to the blind, to bring freedom to the oppressed, and to proclaim a year of the Lord's favor.” (Luke 4: 18-19).
I find such strength in realizing that the Word gives sense to our daily living as people and as a community! It is this God of Life who sustains us in a timeless embrace! Because as I look back I realize that the Word has been with us since the beginning of the Congregation: when in 1866 Bishop Claudio Maria Dubuis asked for help and the first Sisters came to Galvenston; when the Madeleine Sisters, Pierre and Agnes took the rugged road to San Antonio, Texas in 1869; and when our Sisters left San Antonio in 1885 to bring the Word, and find it, in the people of Mexico, Peru, Guatemala, Ireland and Zambia.
And as in the beginning, today and always: God speaks the Word; God speaks our life in the always present now. Every day I receive invitations to say yes, to share Christ with everyone. I can share this positivity even through silence: smiling at strangers where I find them, happily accepting people or unexpected events, respecting and appreciating what is different, listening with my heart and my ears, letting go of negative feelings, being open to new ideas, trying something different, and replacing anxiety with confidence in the Incarnate Word that knows and loves everything.