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Consecrated life: arms outstretched to the world

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The superior of the Fraternas in Sydney, Lorena Portocarrero, in Machu Pichu, Peru.
The superior of the Fraternas in Sydney, Lorena Portocarrero, in Machu Pichu, Peru.

On 21 November, 2012, the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I made my Perpetual Profession in the Marian Community of Reconciliation (or Fraternas, as most people call us).

The Mass was glorious. I think I have never been so immersed in every moment of the Liturgy. The Mass, taking approximately an hour and a half, felt like one moment.

The Profession happens during the Mass, but I remember vividly the moments beforehand. I was sitting on the first pew, dressed in white, with the church filled with hundreds of people, yet to me it was a silent moment, a time of solitude with my Lord.

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I experienced deep joy and serenity and could not take my eyes off the big Crucifix hanging above the sanctuary. Looking at him crucified, giving himself with tender love from the Cross, my heart could only say: thank you! My life is yours, I was made for this, I don’t deserve so much love.

Without thinking about it, I started to pray the words of Mary in the Magnificat “My soul glorifies the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for He has looked upon

His lowly servant” (Lk 1:46-48). On that night I gave myself fully and for life to the service of God, and through Him, to the service of his people.

My life is consecrated to God. This is my joy and my purpose. Christ has called me by name to follow him closely and to love others with his same love.

That is the vocation of Fraterna. Being lay consecrated women, and members of a very young community (25 years only!), many people ask us what our vocation consists of. Some wonder if we are more consecrated or more lay, but the truth is that we are both. The Holy Spirit is blessing the Church with new forms of consecrated life and this is one of them. As I shared above, we are consecrated to God, we belong to him. I have made perpetual promises of obedience and celibacy.

My life is no longer mine but his; called to a love that is exclusive, total, permanent and fruitful.

The Mass and other prayer times are central to my life; I really need to spend time every day dedicated to encountering God. Prayer is where he strengthens me and it is also the source of the love I give to others.

At the same time, we remain lay (or secular). The Fraternas are women of the Church in the heart of society. Sharing in the mission of the laity, we are called by God to live in the midst of the world and its concerns, to be sanctified in it and to help to transform it from within, announcing the Gospel in the world like leaven, with the ardour of the spirit of Christ.

Being lay gives us flexibility of life. This flexibility is seen not only in our daily lives or schedules, but also in relation to our insertion in society.

We are meant to be with the people, and are also able to get involved in different kinds of ministries. Serving from a variety of professions or different ministries within the Church, the heart of our mission is to assume the mission of the Church to restore all things in Christ.

Being daughters of Mary, we strongly feel called to be spiritual mothers. This means that we accompany people not en masse but as unique individuals, we walk with them as they have a personal and life-giving encounter with God.

We strive to build true friendships with those whom God puts in our lives. Some people, who interestingly don’t know each other, describe the Fraternas as being a bridge between God and the world. In a world that turns its back on God, where it seems that for most people He is of no relevance in their lives and has nothing to offer them, from our littleness we hope to be instruments of God’s grace.

We hope to help others to be open to encountering God, the one who sustains our lives, the source and fullness of all that is good, beautiful and true, the one who knows us and loves us the most.

We hope to walk with others, as we follow Christ together, the true model of humanity. As for me, I have a heart for the youth. I have been involved in youth and young adult ministry since my teens.

It is an honour and a joy to walk with young people as they discover the true meaning of their lives in Christ, as they follow him and as they become missionary disciples themselves.

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