Celia M. Etchegaray Zacarías

54 years old;  Bachelor Degree in Social Services- Aldeas Infantiles SOS (Children Villages SOS), Paraguay
Women Apostolic Federation of Schoenstatt

What experiences have formed you as a woman?

The greatest experience that has shaped me as a woman and has marked my life had its deep roots in my family. My parents belong to the Movement, they are members of the first groups of the time of foundation in Paraguay. Somehow I can say that since my childhood I have been part of the Movement. I was a member of the Girls Youth, I grew up in the atmosphere of the Home Shrine, which profoundly marked my life and that of my 6 brothers and sisters.  This certainly contributed to my formation and education as a woman. 

Schoenstatt gave me, as a woman, the possibility to grow in self-knowledge and in a serious self-education work, through ascetic and pedagogic means:  from the acceptance of one’s own originality, by working with the personal ideal, increasing my values and above all my freedom. 

All these gifts that God placed in my soul from his personal love, helped me to grow as a woman. Which is undoubtedly a long, profound, organic and free process. 

If I could summarize, I would say that with Schoenstatt, I received the grace, as a person, as a woman to live in daily life the profound unity of the natural with the supernatural, facing the challenges that life presents on a personal and professional level, making God present in life. In synthesis living my Covenant of Love with joy, simplicity, firmness and audacity, in all the places where I have to act. 

At what points in your life did you experience God?

I have deeply experienced God thanks to my natural  parents, and that experience led me to grow in filiality before God. At the same time experiencing the filiality of my parents before God, in daily life, before the Mater and Father and Founder, was a bridge for my personal experience of a God that is Father and Mother. 

So, while I was growing my personal bond with the Father and Founder became the most deep root of my soul. It is certainly for me the transparency of God. It is like the secret and fundament of my life, that gives me security, confidence, live the Practical Faith in Divine Providence, where the God of life manifests itself permanently. 

This filiality helped me to discover my vocation, looking for “my place in Schoenstatt” which I found in the Women Apostolic Federation of Schoenstatt, my personal fulfillment and fullness of my life. 

At the same time, all this contributed to my realization also in the professional field, working for 27 years in the Aldeas Infantiles SOS (Children Villages SOS). 

This path of filiality, that I was able to pass through, that gave me deep roots, is what takes me to live as a woman in a profound peace and living joy, which gave me the power to display a wonderful motherhood. 

Many times we hear the beautiful words: “ There is more happiness in giving than in receiving”. (Ap. 20, 35).  

I can affirm and underline that they are words so true, because that is my life experience as a woman. I can simply summarize my experience as a daughter before God:  give and giving myself. 
Everything is a fruit of personal love of a God that is Father, of a love that fulfills. 

What is the challenge you see for women today?

Feminine values, more sacred and noble, are been attacked. We know that modern feminism attacks such an attitude essential in women. 

Feminism inside and outside the Catholic Church is in danger of undermining , to relegate to the background that essential and eternal element in women. In the case of Catholic feminism , naturally by reason of very noble tendencies. Women fight in society for assuming a place equivalent to men. But it gets easily confused at this point “of equal value” with “equal modality”. Our Father says: “Try to trace that ray of the essence of women to the Triune God. Maternity , God’s eternal helpfulness, is the ideal of our own service with simplicity and strength (…). Note that disjointed masculinity often manifests itself in a despotic attitude, in an opaqueness of the strong and silent helpfulness. Which translates precisely into a serene and devoted service.”

“In today’s society there are revolutionary currents  in  being and action. 
The revolution on the plane of being will never succeed. Precisely because it is a revolution of the eternal in the human being. And that eternal element in the human being is as eternal as God himself because it is a reflection of God. If feminism pretends to bury the most profound essence of woman, cross out that quite and strong service of woman’s nature, it is condemn to failure. Female humanity has a mission for the redemption of the man and a mission for today’s culture. From this, you can extract the following conclusion: “To the extend that they develop in us the eternal, it will have performed the greatest apostolate that you can carry out as women”.

These words of Father Kentenich describe so beautifully the spiritual motherhood, the eternal femininity:  Emphasis of maternity, the woman is conditioned by the maternity, for the creative force and longs to serve life. 

Without a doubt it is a challenge, because it is very difficult, to fight against the current. 

This marvelous ideal to be another Mary in the middle of the work, will only become a reality if we as Schoenstatt woman are credible leaders, this means, if we have a profound coherence between what we say and what we do. 

An overwhelming unity in being and acting, we should be a living gospel. 

Our challenge as women leaders in the middle of the world:  is that we go through life simple, and deeply kind – Happy, because we know to whom we belong, strong, with deep roots that nothing bring them down. 

Free women.  Women who believe in the nobility of the human soul, capable to find light in the middle of darkness of today’s world because we are convinced that we are approachng a new dawn. 

As our Father said:  “A town rises or falls, as well as their women”.

PD: I clarify that words of Father Kentenich that I have quoted are from my personal notes. They are not from official statements.