Sr. M. Serafina Contreras Zavala
Sister Mary Serafina was part of the first group of missionary sisters, who came to lay the foundations in our beloved Delegation of Venezuela. She was just twenty-two years old and had been professed for one year, when she was asked to venture into this plan of God. As our dear Father Alberione says: “This gift of ones life begun in the postulancy, grows in the novitiate, flourishes in the temporary Profession and is consumed in perpetual Profession”. (APD 1947,59)
Sr Serafina herself tells us:
“I arrived in Caracas from Mexico, in November 1966. The fifth house where we lived was rented and was named “El Gavilán”. I felt a lot of enthusiasm and fear, because it was my first experience as a Religious, but with trust placed not in my own strength, but in the strength of Divine Master, I went forward.
In that community, Mother Redenta was the superior. The community was small. I remember some names of the Colombian nuns: Sisters Rosita, Juanita, Josefa, and Marcela – (the Mistress of the group of Aspirants). Shortly after we went to El Hatillo, to a property that was our own.
Soon after, in 1967, the first group of six Venezuelan nuns arrived from Rome: Sister Mary Luigina, Sister Mary Lucía, Sister Mary Inmaculatina, Sister Mary Rosángela, Sister Mary Pauline and Sister Mary Teresita. I had a very positive experience when I lived for the first time during a strong earthquake. The neighborhood of Los Palos Grandes had been destroyed. This event was an invitation to prepare myself in all aspects and to regain my trust only in the Divine Master.
In those days Sister Blanca Sepúlveda (Colombian) arrived from Rome to take care of the group of junior professed sisters to which I belonged. Sister Mary Santina (from Italy) arrived a few days after me.
In May 1968 Mother Lucia Ricci, the Superior General, arrived. She was accompanied by her Vicar, Mother Tecla Molino. There was a group of 12 aspirants, one of whom was Leodina Villareal, now Sister Leticia.
In that same year I started to do something that pleased me greatly. I planted grass in the garden, and this helped me relax, smile, and enjoy everything. Well, I did a little bit of everything.
I lived an experience of suffering when I experienced the change of living the change of leadership of Mother Redenta and Mother Blanca to Colombia. It was not only this change that caused me suffering, but also when my five young Venezuelan companions left the congregation.
Without a doubt, this experience purified me and helped me grow. I was strengthened more and more in my own vocation. Mother Redenta had a strong character, but she was very upright in her life and very sincere. She told the truth and was formed in freedom. Mother Virginia was very demanding, however, from her I learned to mature and always see things as positive, even if at the time it was not easy to discover the positive aspects.
We went out every day for propaganda. It was a very difficult mission, however we did it with faith. I greatly appreciate the time that I have spent in Venezuela, and I guard it as a great treasure, for which I thank God and each of the sisters whom I have met, wherever they are.
My return to Mexico took place in 1970 to prepare me for perpetual profession. A charismatic phrase of our founder, Father Alberione that marked me very much is as follows: “The works of God are done with the people of God”. Thank you!”
Sr. Mary Serafina is now a member of the Guadalajara community, Mexico. DM