On March 25 the Church celebrated the Solemnity of the Annunciation. But for one group of consecrated laywomen, the day had additional significance. The Marian Community of Reconciliation, or the “fraternas” as they are known, were also celebrating their 20th anniversary.
Founded in Peru by Luis Fernando Figari on March 25, 1991, the fraternas are a group of laywomen who have consecrated their lives to God through obedience, celibacy and detachment from temporal goods so that they might be fully available for the apostolic work to which they are called.
According to Rossana Goñi, the superior of the community in Denver, it is that full availability that characterizes the fraternas. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., agreed as he celebrated Mass at Holy Name Parish in Englewood for the special feast day of the Annunciation, which coincides with the sisters’ anniversary.
“The real celebration today is the fiat, the ‘yes,’ of Mary, which is, in a very real way, the beginning of our salvation,” the archbishop said in his homily. He went on to include the fraternas in the full availability of Mary. “Denver is the beneficiary of the charism, the gift, that is the Marian Community of Reconciliation,” Archbishop Chaput said. “And today they renew their commitment to be fully available to the will of God.”
Their “yes” to God’s call has led the fraternas to serve in many capacities around the world, including Denver for the last 12 years. For the first several years, the Denver fraternas were the only ones in the United States. Today, the Denver community consists of five members. There are more than 170 fraternas worldwide, representing 19 dioceses.
In the Denver Archdiocese, the fraternas have responded to God’s call in various ways including working in the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis, editing and contributing to the Spanish newspaper El Pueblo Católico, campus ministry on the Auraria campus, vocational direction, spiritual guidance and as teachers.
Responding to God in these ways as a fraterna is not without its obstacles.
“Personally, I think the greatest challenges are to be constantly aware and attentive with a spiritual gaze about the human person who lives in a world that is constantly changing, especially the fast pace of change,” Goñi told the Denver Catholic Register. “Evangelizing a person living in the midst of the world today requires not only a profound spiritual life to try to be in tune with God´s plan, but a realistic approach to the world so we can understand the deepest longings of the human being.”
For the fraternas, saying “yes” to God is not necessarily a task they aim to accomplish, but rather a way of life. For this reason, it is perhaps not surprising that Goñi’s goal for the next 20 years of the community is the same as the goal she has for today.
“That God may always find us living faithfully our vocation,” she said, “spreading the Good News, evangelizing constantly, giving ourselves for the salvation of many people who are searching for happiness but dying because of their loneliness and meaninglessness in life.”
Printed with permission from the Denver Catholic Register.