Fraternas: Living and serving with ‘the total security of God’

Members of the Marian Community of Reconciliation, known as “Fraternas,” are pictured at the recent Religious Education Congress in Anaheim. From left are: Maria Teresa Alva, Rossana Goni, Luciane Urban and Susana Nieto. — Photo Credit: PAULA DOYLE

At age 19, Maria Teresa Alva was already involved with the Christian Life Movement in her native Peru, when she met members of the Marian Community of Reconciliation, also known as “Fraternas” — laywomen who have consecrated themselves to God in order to serve others in the world.

Founded in Peru by a consecrated layman in 1991, the Fraternas take on the commitments of obedience, celibacy and detachment from temporal goods in order to be fully available for the apostolate, centered on working with youth, families, the needy, the evangelization of culture and the protection and the dignity of life. Currently, members of the community serve in several dioceses of South and Central America, Australia, England, Italy and the U.S. (California, Colorado, Connecticut and Texas).

Alva felt there was something special about the Fraternas. “I was really touched about their joy and happiness,” the now 37-year-old told The Tidings in a group interview with three other community members at the recent Religious Education Congress.

“I started to ask myself and ask God what he wanted for me,” said Alva. “I knew I wanted to give my entire heart to God, not only a part, all of it. So, with a lot of signs, I realized he was really calling me to this kind of life.”

Since joining the community, she has served in Chile, Ecuador, Peru and arrived two months ago to join three other Fraternas living together in a house near St. Victor Church in West Hollywood.

Susana Nieto, 36, the director of faith formation at St. Martin of Tours parish in Brentwood, says her high school participation in the Christian Life Movement’s ministries to the needy and to youth also sparked the desire for a deeper commitment.

“I felt that God was calling me to consecrate myself somehow,” said Nieto. “Just by opening my heart to the will of God, to see what it was that God wanted me to do and also knowing the signs that he was putting in my path, I realized that this was my vocation [to join the Fraternas],” which she did at age 20.

She said the authenticity of the Fraternas impressed her. “The joy that each member was able to spread and share just by living — by doing daily things like cooking, going shopping, praying, leading groups — it was that joy, their own witness and testimony, that brought me closer to Christ. I saw how they were so happy and fulfilled living their own vocation that it put down my own [fear] barriers of discovering my vocation.”

Like other Fraternas, after living three years in a house of formation, Nieto was sent to a community — in her case to a town close to where she grew up in Lima, Peru — and she started her apostolic ministry, which lasted for two years. She was then sent on a mission to the U.S. in Denver, serving there eight years working with youth before arriving in Los Angeles nearly four years ago along with fellow Fraternas, Brazil-born Luciane Urban, executive coordinator to Archbishop José Gomez.

“Sometimes,” noted Urban, “when we tell about our vocation and we say ‘I gave my life to God and I don’t know where I’m going to live, who I’m going to live with, what I’m going to do, or how long I’m going to be in one place,’ people ask, ‘How can you live with such insecurity?’”

She explained it as a paradox of faith. “On a human level, it seems so insecure, but it’s totally the opposite,” said Urban. “What greater security can we have than being in God’s hands?

“I think that’s one of the things that gives us a lot of joy and that helps us be able to live here and meet the people and the friends we make in one place, and then go to another place or change ministries or do something that we have never done or thought of before. If God is asking us to do it, he’s going to give us the grace. What seems so insecure in the eyes of the world, it’s the total security of God.”

Peruvian native Rossana Goni, 47, who was a journalist with Catholic News Agency before joining the Fraternas at age 26, points out that the community  (canonically approved as a society of apostolic life) was born after the Second Vatican Council, which called for the laity to be more active in evangelization.

“In our community, the emphasis is on being a lay person and being active and evangelizing — to go out and be there in the middle of the world doing something,” explained Goni, the community’s superior in Los Angeles. She notes that Pope Francis is calling today for a similar type of outreach with the new evangelization.

“We want that — we want to go out and tell people that God is alive and he loves you and he wants you to be happy,” said Goni.

She noted that, although members take a vow of celibacy, that doesn’t mean the consecrated laywomen give up motherhood. They become spiritual mothers, helping people on their path to holiness. “I’m a spiritual mother to many, even people older than me,” noted Goni.

“To be a spiritual mother,” she added, “is extremely fulfilling. We were born for that. We’re women; we don’t lose that [desire for] motherhood. We live it fully.”

 

For more information on the Marian Community of Reconciliation, contact rgoni@fraternas.org or log on to www.fraternas.org.


Voices

Seeking the face of God in the Scriptures

Archbishop José H. Gomez

Prayer is seeking the face of God. The Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls the story of how St. John Vianney once found a peasant praying in front of the Blessed Sacrament. The saint asked him what he was doing, and the man replied: “I look at him and he looks at me.”

Events

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February 13, 2016

  • Saturday, February 13

    World Day of the Sick Mass, Mass and Anointing of the Sick, 12:30 p.m., Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels,  555 W Temple St, Los Angeles. Archbishop Gomez presiding with other bishops and priests. Special section designated for those in wheelchairs with volunteers available to help. Limited parking available for $8. Carpooling is encouraged. For more info: Chuck Huebner at cjhuebner @gmail.com or Jim LoCoco at flavialococ0@msn.com.

     

     

    Bosco Tech’s Yurak Memorial Run & Kids’ Fun Run, Check in begins at 8 a.m., Memorial Run at 9 a.m., Fun Run at 10 a.m., Bosco Tech, 1151 San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead. Race registration is $35 per person. For school groups of 10 or more, the cost is $30. To register online, go to www.boscotech.edu/events or www.yurak.eventbrite.com; same-day registration available at check-in table. Included: racing fees, finisher medal, goodie bag and BBQ lunch. Plaques will be awarded to the top five male and female runners and to the fastest runner under 18.All proceeds to benefit Bosco Tech’s Yurak Athletic Center (YAC). 

     

    Cabrini Literary Guild “Sweetheart Bingo” Meeting, Sat., Feb.13 at Oakmont Country Club, 3100 Country Club Drive, Glendale. Meeting starts at 11 a.m., lunch at 12 p.m. ($30/person), and bingo social at 1 p.m. Bingo cards are $5 each, or $20 for five cards. For reservations, call (818) 790-3485.

     

    Footprints: Making Tracks for Neighbors in Need, 8:30 - 11:30 a.m., Bishop Amat High School track, 14301 Fairgrove Ave., La Puente. Catholic Charities San Gabriel Region will present this annual walk/run fundraiser to increase awareness about poverty, hunger and homelessness in the San Gabriel Region. Proceeds benefit those lacking basic needs, such as food, clothing, transportation and shelter. This is a come anytime, leave anytime event, with the first lap around the track to be led by Bishop David O'Connell. For more information, visit lentenfootprints.yolasite.com or contact Mary Romero at (213) 251-3582 or mromero@ccharities.org.

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