The diversity of cultures in the senior class has broadened my worldview. Hosting students from Spain, Mexico, El Salvador and the United State, the 2013 graduating class will be the most multicultural class graduating MEC. My experience has been that the best way to understand another culture is through their people.
Silvia Canales, one of the three El Salvadorians, has taught me much about her country in Central America. The small nation resides just south of Guatemala and Honduras, with a western boarder on the Pacific Ocean. Its tiny population creates close ties with many people throughout the country. The vast beaches make it a perfect place for parties and socializing. Not only a social hot spot, but Christianity has imbued the culture. Silvia brings El Salvadorian culture to our class, but more importantly she brings herself, with the unique story that God has written with her life.
She grew up immersed in the culture of her country. Attending an Opus Dei school and going to mass on Sunday did not hinder her rich social life. Just like any other girl, she loved time at the beach and shopping with friends. A small invitation to a girls club run by the Regnum Christ Consecrated called ECyD changed the focus of her life.
Unwilling to go to the first meeting alone, she showed up with 10 friends (I told you she was social). Silvia ‘clicked’ with ECyD. She still loved parties and beaches, but this club helped her develop a personal relationship with Christ. Her heart caught on fire with love for God and for souls.
She started to talk to Cristy, one of the Consecrated of Regnum Christi who ran ECyD. She loved to spend time at the ECyD club house working on projects. She even volunteered for one summer as an ECyD missionary in Michigan. The more Silvia gave, the more her heart grew. The peace, joy, and enthusiasm that flooded her heart urged her to bring the love of Christ to all those she met.
That summer left her not only with joy, but also the seeds of a vocation in her heart. In a conversation with Cristy, she mentioned she was interested in attending a high school in Mexico for girls who are discerning their vocation. Cristy thought it would be better for Silvia to wait because her old sister was attending that school. It would be hard for her parents if both of them were gone.
She talked it over with her parents, who agreed with Cristy about waiting. She prayed about it and with all things considered, she felt that God was asking her to go now. With courage and generosity she asked her parents for permission. Her parents were convinced that she would be happy there, and granted her permission to finish high school in Mexico.
Silvia loved it. She said school helped her develop her talents and build the foundation for her life. The prayer times opened her to God’s action in her soul. One day during her night reflection time, God spoke to her very clearly.
“Will you help me?” God asked.
She pondered this moment of prayer in the following weeks. The desire to serve God and give everything to him was growing in her heart. She felt God calling her to consecrated life.
As graduation approached, she needed to make a decision about what she would do next year. Go home, or take the step of consecrating her life to God. God’s invitation, ‘will you help me?’ had faded in her memory; she was not sure what God wanted.
She decided to talk to Mariana, the consecrated member in charge of the school, to ask her advice. Marianna knew that Silvia’s decision was between her and God. At the end of the conversation Mariana told her,
“You know what God is asking of you deep in your heart; you know what it is.”
Silvia went to the chapel to pray. She was convinced it would be better to go home. If God’s will was not clear, she thought it would be better until it was clear before making her decision.
A couple of days later, she spoke with a priest about her discernment. At the end of the conversation he advised her not to close her discernment period. She could have a vocation, but it was also possible that she did not. God needed more time to work in her soul.
Silvia prayed about it in her retreat the next day. As she told God all of the reasons she didn’t want to get consecrated, He dispelled her objections. She finished that moment of prayer with peace, the peace that only God can give.
She went to Mariana, and told her, “I am going to get consecrated.”
A couple of months later, she made promises of poverty, chastity, and obedience as a consecrated of Regnum Christi. Silvia arrived on October 1st to begin her formation at Mater Ecclesia College. She has not only brought the treasure of her culture to our class, but more importantly, the treasure of herself.