Hilda Pagan

Born in Puerto Rico in 1933; when she was five years old, her father left the family. After her marriage, she lived with her husband for several years in the USA, where they met the founder of Schoenstatt, Father Kentenich, and were personally guided by him. Of their four children, two died in infancy. Upon their return to Puerto Rico, Mr. Pagan was ordained a deacon, and the couple joined the Schoenstatt Family Federation and belonged to the founding generation of Schoenstatt in Puerto Rico. Hilda Pagan has been a widow since 2001. Today she lives in San Juan, Puerto Rico, near her children.

What experiences have formed you as a woman?

The image of my mother comes to mind.  She was the first woman I knew intensively; she took care of me with great care and devotion.  She loved and protected me as her most precious possession.  My mother taught me devotion to St. Michael, to Christus “de Limpias” and to the poor souls. I had the privilege to have her at my side until her journey into eternity. She educated me through her example, and protected me through her presence. Through her, I came closer to God. I grew up with experiences that led me on the path to God through unique people, experiences that gave me wisdom as a child, later as a youth and adult.

When I was 23 years old, I married in May 1960, and from then on I lived with my husband in Brooklyn, N.Y., U.S.A. Through a friend from our hometown in Puerto Rico, we met the pastor of Our Lady of Pompeii Church, Father Juan Luis Sartor, a Pallottine Father from Brazil. Father Juan led us to the Blessed Mother, she looked at us and took us into her motherly heart. The desire to know and deepen the spirituality of Schoenstatt was awakened in us. In our youthful enthusiasm, we discovered a new world. Two years later we traveled to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to meet Father Joseph Kentenich, the Founder of the Schoenstatt Movement. The encounter with him marked our lives forever. He made the God of life tangible and present for us. a reality for us. We entered a world of new insights and spiritual life, where we met the infinite love of God the Father and found perfect inner harmony that is only possible in God.

In my years as a wife and mother I had to bear great suffering: two of my four children died at the age of four. Juan Carlos de San Gerardo died in Milwaukee in 1967 and Teresita de Maria Fiatis died in Puerto Rico in 1969. Three other pregnancies also came to an unhappy ending. The insights that were given to us helped me to strive and struggle after the example of the Blessed Mother. Later my husband became ill and I took care of him for several years.  I received from God and the Blessed Mother the strength to take care of him in the best possible way.  These were very difficult times.  Through God’s grace I was able to accept them and offer them for our mission.

God has been present in all phases of my life.  It is easy for me to find him in my life.

Where have you experienced God in your life?

The provident love of God the Father has been present in everything that has happened in my life. From a very young age I was actively involved in the parish, and I belonged to the Daughters of Mary.  God gave me classmates who shared my faith. He gave me a woman who proved to be the guardian of my spiritual life, who led me spiritually for five years. Divine Providence led me to Father Joseph Kentenich, whom I always experienced as a spiritual father. With a fatherly heart, Father Kentenich led me into the Covenant of Love with the Blessed Mother. I had the privilege of being personally educated and formed by him.  We were able to find a house in Milwaukee. Our whole life in Milwaukee was an ongoing experience of God in our lives. Our Magnificat Home Shrine, blessed by Father Kentenich and where we received him so often, was the pillar of our home. Through Father Kentenich, our lives were transformed. We had security, there were no problems, we were no longer lonely. We felt God’s nearness, we experienced his presence and the reality of Divine Providence and we knew that God would always be with us.  When you learn to keep your ear on the heart of God, it becomes easy to walk his paths. In difficult times, we received signs, indicating the right thing to do. Since childhood I cultivated my love for God as Father, for the Holy Spirit, for Jesus Christ, for the Mother of God.  My personal contact with God keeps my life in balance. I know how to deal with difficulties that come my way, and I have the confidence that I can rely on my personal God, who knows what is good for me.

What do you see as the challenge for women today?

The image of women changes from minute to minute, as trends emerge in the pursuit of supposed happiness and personal satisfaction that lead women away from their own original ideal. Women are constantly on the lookout for new trends in fashion, in clothing and in self-expression. In search of misunderstood freedom, woman is looking for experiences in which she feels independent and as the master of her body and actions. Her constant struggle for happiness has led her away from God and the supernatural world. Nothing pleases her when she achieves it. She is dissatisfied with her appearance, which always leads her to modify her image with superficial changes that end up disappointing her. Her false idea of freedom and the desire to be like a man causes her to lose her femininity. The woman has lost her self-esteem. Her body is the means she uses to conquer and attract attention.

The situation of the woman today is a challenge for our time and in a special way for our Schoenstatt Family. We are called to awaken a stream of life among us that leads us to our origins. To rediscover the ideal for which our God created us. In order to represent the authentic image of woman as women, we should be a little Mary. The Mother of God answers our longing. She can show us the way. To be a little Mary has the power to create a space for us where we can be the kind of woman who overcomes obstacles, a woman who is not a cliché, but an unrepeatable original; a daughter who, in her attachment to God the Father, experiences herself as perfect, as a masterpiece of his love.

Today there are still women who have high ideals such as purity, honesty and faith before their eyes, who strive for a world in harmony and solidarity. They do not receive any encouragement in their environment. On the contrary, they are often attacked. It is up to us to be the answer and to face this challenge by trying to give such women what strengthens them, to encourage, guide, and protect them so that they can achieve the new type of woman according to their being.  In our case, we find this new type of woman in the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God. A woman who is like Mary walks through the world with her feet on the ground and her heart in the presence of the Trinity. That is my life.

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

I would like to contribute so that men and women of today have the opportunity to get to know and experience the constant activity of God in their lives. In order for this to become possible, the thinking, loving and living of people today has to become an organic thinking, loving and living. This way of thinking, loving and living has to be directed anew towards God and receive from him the orientation to live according to his will and the order of creation. Love, solidarity and helpfulness would then develop among all people. The aspirations of man would be directed towards holiness. We have been created for this purpose because God is holy and created us in his image and likeness.

Let us make sure that human relationships are fraternal and that we are ready to bring them to the newest shores. Do you have the courage? Do you go with me?