Sr. María Virginia de Jesús took her vows 50 years ago and has been living for God in the cloister ever since.
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The Sacred Heart of Jesus monastery of the Discalced Carmelite Order, in Altos de Escuque, Trujillo (Venezuela), experienced a moment of special happiness in early June this year. It was a truly special occasion: one of its members, Sr. María Virginia de Jesús, celebrated her golden jubilee of consecrated life. Indeed, she took her vows 50 years ago and has been living for God in the cloister ever since.
“I feel very grateful to the Lord in spite of my unworthiness,” said the Discalced Carmelite according to a note received by Aleteia from the media office of the diocese of Trujillo.
Fr. Jose Magdaleno Álvarez, who is in charge of that office, said that the celebration took place on Thursday, June 8. Four days later, on Sunday, June 12, the sister celebrated her 79th birthday.
“Whenever I need it, God helps me. If I feel bad I immediately go to the Blessed Sacrament to ask for His help … and He gives me peace,” explained the nun in her meeting with the Bishop of Trujillo, José Trinidad Fernández Angulo, along with priests and relatives who accompanied her during the celebration.
The nun added, “God is my great friend, my spouse, because we are married to the Beloved; in every need I go to Him.”
Happy and smiling
Sr. María Virginia de Jesús (her name in religion) was baptized as Trina Elena Fuenmayor Andrade. According to the information provided to Aleteia, she’s the daughter of Eduardo Fuenmayor and Josefina Andrade de Fuenmayor, and was born in Maracaibo, in the state of Zulia, on June 12, 1943.
She made her first religious vows on June 9, 1972, in San Pedro de Los Altos, in the state of Miranda, where the community was previously located. “That monastery was transferred to the Trujillo mountains in 1992,” explains the information provided by Fr. Magdaleno Álvarez.
The nun is always smiling and happy. She also said she “felt surprised because she did not expect so much” celebration for this occasion.
“I feel very happy to see my relatives because I didn’t know they were coming; but also, I regret the absence of some priests who for health reasons could not accompany me.”
The nun, who has a twin brother, also affectionately expressed her gratitude for the presence of the bishop, priests, relatives, and friends who accompanied her and gave her a moment of joy on this special day.
The Mass through a grille
The Mass was celebrated in the monastery chapel by Bishop José Trinidad Fernández Angulo of the Diocese of Trujillo. In this chapel, the nuns participate in the Eucharist within the monastery from a room called a choir, facing the main altar but separated from the rest of the church by a grille.
“The grilles of Carmel are there, not to protect us from the world, but to attract the pain and the needs of the world to the solitude of the soul with God,” says a sign in front of the grilles. The phrase is from St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, whose name—before her conversion from Judaism, her consecration as a Discalced Carmelite, and her martyrdom at the hands of the Nazis—was Edith Stein.
Wearing their distinctive habits, the Discalced Carmelites accompanied María Virginia, who was located in the center of them with a wreath of flowers on her head. The bishop spoke about the liturgical feast of the day, this time dedicated to Jesus Christ High and Eternal Priest and the contemplative religious life.
The mystery of contemplation
“We share in her joy and gratitude,” the bishop said. “We ask God that her life of dedication may be a witness for many vocations to the contemplative life. Just as Jesus Christ, Priest and Shepherd, manifests his sentiments for all of us, so consecrated people manifest their sentiments that adorn the life of the Church through the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience,” said the bishop.
“We are called to be mystics in daily contemplation and in meditation on that mystery of faith and love that only souls in love are able to find. This is the way our dear sister has wished to live and how God has allowed her to celebrate these 50 years,” said the Bishop of Trujillo.
Then Sr. Maráa Virginia de Jesus renewed her vows. Her monastery companions intoned a hymn in Latin which is customary on this occasion, while two nuns, one on each side, poured rose petals over her. Behind the grille of contemplation, tears of joy rolled down the cheeks of the nun, full of emotion.