An elderly woman considered the “dean” of the Caritas volunteers in the Archdiocese of Valencia, Spain celebrated her 100th birthday this past weekend with a Mass of thanksgiving.
Clotilde Veniel, who continues to visit the sick and to actively work with Caritas in Valencia – which she helped found – celebrated her birthday surrounded by friends and family, including two of her sons, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
After the Mass, she and her family celebrated with a dinner at their home, which was decorated with one hundred roses and balloons.
According to the AVAN news agency, Veniel is known in Caritas for her joy and commitment to pastoral work.
“When I visit the sick, sometimes I tell them jokes or I recite some poems to entertain them,” she told the agency. “We talk about joyful things of the past, like when we would go on walks with our boyfriends, which is much better than talking about our sorrows.”
The “dean” of the Caritas volunteers began her work with the agency in 1989, when the local pastor, Father Pascual Ripoll, “encouraged us to form Caritas. We had hardly anything, and another girl and I asked people for donations,” she recalled.
Nowadays, Veniel helps to collect donated clothing and bakes pastries and other sweets to raise money for the Medieval Festival held each year in the town of Bicorp, where she resides.
Father Ripoll said the 100-year-old volunteer is “very beloved and attends all the Caritas meetings. She has a lot of initiative,” he said.
Raised in a family of six sisters and one brother, Veniel said her longevity is the result of hard work. “I have worked a lot, almost since I learned to walk,” she said.