Elizabeth Bunster Chacón

Born in 1962, married to Raúl Díaz Ramírez, seven children

Social worker with a degree in family work. Degree in Network Management and Public Policy for Social Protection. Master’s Degree in Social Psychology at the Pontifical Catholic University.

Belongs with her husband to the Family Federation in Chile.

What experiences have formed you as a woman?

Getting to know Schoenstatt in my youth when I entered the University, full of longing, but also with many limitations, fears, confusion and existential questions, was for me like finding a great lighthouse. I believe that in this time of searching it was Mary who found me and who called me first. Even before I knew her image, I discovered her tenderness and motherliness, then I saw her face. I clearly experienced her closeness, which exceeded my expectations, as it happened in the miracles of daily life.

To feel the love of God in daily life through Mary, through others in her little shrine, meant discovering a treasure that changed my relationship with God in faith and clarified my questions. This experience gave me peace and the confidence to recognize more and more who I was, to accept my history, my shortcomings, my longings, and to orient my life according to my personal ideal. I thank God for the great gift of feeling like his infinitely beloved child; undoubtedly a fundamental experience for all my later development. This foundation was the best incentive for my further education, not only with a view to a university career, but for me as a woman to live this way that I was called to follow through my Covenant of Love.

In this formation process I discovered Father Joseph Kentenich, the founder of Schoenstatt, as a father and prophetic person whom I admire because of his life story and because he was a beloved, pliable son of Mary. Through his warm glance – which responds to everything that the heart entrusts to it – I learned to perceive him as a transparency and reflection of God’s fatherliness. Because of this, I sing a song of thanksgiving for everything that I received through him, especially for the Schoenstatt Family to which I belong.

Of course, more than any professional title, the great gift of my life is the Covenant of Love with Mary, which illuminates everything, my family, my personal goals, my work… She is the one who shows me the way, opens the doors, guides my steps and weaves the story of my life. I have always felt like a small instrument that transmits the threads of this fabric – not always on time, because my weaknesses, my history, my blindness often depress me, but SHE continues to weave…

Through this formation, which began with my Covenant of Love, I was able to surrender myself as a willing instrument in her hand and have my corners and edges polished. I was able to grow in absolute trust in her love and I learned to offer all my talents, my strength and my sufferings in order to collaborate in God’s plan and in the mission that our founder has given us for the new time.

In this process of formation in Schoenstatt’s spirituality, from my youth to the present, the closeness of the priests and the Sisters of Mary, as well as the communities of youth and families to which I belonged, were also essential for me.

The great pillars of my life are my husband, from whom I have learned so much, each of my children, with whom I have a special relationship, my shrine in Bellavista and the power of the Holy Spirit, which is so clearly revealed there.

Where have you experienced God in your life?

In Schoenstatt I began to feel the experience of the living God much more strongly, although I felt a great love for Christ even as a child. I also experienced him in the invocation of the Holy Spirit every Friday evening in charismatic prayer groups. But this was a love for a God who was in a faraway heaven and who heard me from that distance. My surprise was great when I discovered that God is at my side, that he responds, that he reveals his love to me through people and events. Through practical faith in Divine Providence I also learned to recognize His will. I feel very close to the Holy Spirit, the giver of life, before whom I bow, to whom I thank and with whom I also made a covenant, asking for his presence and his seven gifts for my life, in order to be able to serve the mission that God has entrusted to me even better.

But without a doubt, the strongest experience of being close to God was the birth of each of our seven children and the two already in heaven, who could not be born. Every new life is a miracle and one experiences the joy of being a large family, living joyfully and hopefully, even in the face of difficulties. We have experienced the love of Mary, who provided us with a house and everything that was necessary for the care and education of our children. We had the confidence that we would never lack anything.

Another way of experiencing God was to accompany people who are suffering from the profound pain, experienced in immense loneliness, of having aborted a child and who need the experience of God’s forgiving, merciful love. It is touching to accompany the deeply moved women who are in tears when they can feel this love again at the end of such a process. I am grateful to be able to be a bridge for them and a help in rebuilding the bond of love with God and with their unborn child who now lives in the presence of God.

From my shrine at work, I meet God in the municipal administration of Puente Alto, the largest municipality in Chile with the highest percentage of people in socially difficult circumstances. As a social worker, I can bring hope to those who suffer from poverty and limited opportunities for development, especially to families wounded by abuse, violence and a lack of orientation. The greatest poverty is not knowing how to heal these wounds of pain and suffering that affect entire generations and require acceptance, comfort and faith. I know that Mary acts, accompanies me and helps me to give an answer that exceeds my abilities.

Finally, I cannot fail to mention as an experience of God’s love that Easter Sunday, April 4, 1999, when we crowned Mary as Queen of New Life. It was at the tomb of our founder, Father Joseph Kentenich, in Schoenstatt, Germany. The fruit of this coronation was – in the same year – the beginning of the project “Esperanza”, which has become fruitful in many countries and gives new life to those who suffer pain and remorse because of an abortion.

What do you see as the challenge for women today?

Today, as never before, the ideal of reflecting Mary’s personality in one’s own personality is in great demand. Especially in view of social currents and movements that try to respond to current challenges from an attitude of rivalry or struggle between women and men. Those who deny the greatness of woman as the bearer of life do not see that a real and valuable contribution of woman to a new social order lies in this God-given uniqueness. She brings the heart into the different areas of work and culture – as a complement to the man. The call for a greater presence of women in the different areas of culture must not overlook the fact that the first presence of the woman must be in her own family. There she has an irreplaceable role as wife and mother, where the life and communion of hearts is born, and she is the center so that the family can be a profound community of life and love, as St. John Paul II told us.

What do you want to change through your life in this world?

Through my experience with pregnant women in situations of conflict to avoid abortions, and with women and men who come to the reception center and ask for help, or to confess: “For me it is already too late because I had an abortion and I don’t know how to deal with this pain”, and later through the testimony and accompaniment of women in Chile and other countries in training courses, I realized that the most important thing is to proclaim the infinite love of God and his mercy that transforms life and pain.

Consequently, what I can transform in these people is their deep pain and sadness. This becomes hope by helping them to see their lives from a new perspective. Even if what has happened cannot be changed, the meaning of this pain changes. Initially this pain is like an anchor that is stuck, but it can become a motor to serve life and God, because it is a pain that redeems, that makes streams of living water flow and that multiplies to announce the goodness of our Lord and our dear heavenly Mother.

Specifically, I want to continue to help transform the life stories of many people, to bring them in touch with God, with their weaknesses and wounds, so that everything can heal and they can be happy when they discover that they are called to do something great, that they have a mission. In this way, Mary’s Magnificat can be repeated in them, just as she intoned it in my weak, limited life, with all her love.

I thank our good God and Father with all my heart!