María Cecilia Brunner Moreno

54, married, teacher, mother of a large family, active member of the Schoenstatt Mothers’ Federation in Chile.

Contact with Mary was decisive in my formative years. She has always been part of my life. In what follows I will relate part of my life.

I was born into a very religious Schoenstatt family. There were five children. From my earliest years I have had a natural attachment to the shrine at Bellavista because we lived close by. When I was fifteen I joined a Schoenstatt group for teenage girls. There I gradually made my own what our parents had taught us. A great love for Mary grew within me and I longed to live as she had done, without, of course, distancing myself from social life.

When I was seventeen I took part in a students’ exchange programme to Germany. I spent four months living with a Germany family who made me very welcome. I was able to learn the language to some extent, and got to know and appreciate different customs. At the same time my appreciation of my own roots and longings were strengthened.

Entry into University opened up a wider world for me. I got to know people with other beliefs and attitudes, from different financial circumstances and other political positions. I made many friends and noticed that I had no difficulty in making contacts. It was a very nice time in my life that set its stamp on me, and I also met my first husband.

In 1987 I took enthusiastic part in Pope John Paul II’s visit to Chile, and was part of the youth group that acted as church ushers for the Pope. Later I was present at the international meeting of young people in Buenos Aires. These experiences made a deep impression on me and gave me great joy through meeting other Spanish-speaking and German participants from Schoenstatt and other Movements. Still today I treasure these moments.

On 15 August 1988 I married Miguel. We created a lovely family and had five children. However, God the Father wanted to call him to his side very soon. My faith was harshly tested: In 2002 when I was 36 I unexpectedly became a widow. My husband and his brother were involved in an accident and both died. My children were 12, 11, 4 and 3, and the youngest 9 months old. It was dreadful!

Thanks to the support of my family, my friends and my beloved community in the Mothers’ Federation, in particular my course (HTSC), I was able to cope. A terrible time followed … until I was able to accept that I had not been created to live alone. I then asked Miguel to look for a husband for me (I was convinced that he was close to Mary and that she would answer his prayers). The process wasn’t easy … and José María appeared. He was a Schoenstatt member, his marriage had been dissolved legally and ecclesiastically, and his four children lived with him. We married in 2007 and formed a large family with nine children. We faced enormous challenges: We had to learn to live together in harmony, to find a large and affordable house, accept our spouse and his/her children just as they were and with their whole history. … Guided by Mary we dared to take the plunge, a very big plunge, on 13 May, the feast of our Lady of Fatima…. By now almost thirteen years have passed. We are happy, satisfied and grateful. In addition God the Father, who does all things well, gave us Ignacio, our tenth child, in the fourth year of our marriage. He is now 8.

As I see it, the greatest challenge for women today is to arrive at a correct and natural balance. This balance includes and integrates many different aspects in order to be a happy person and woman – life at work, a religious life, married life, motherhood, a social life and responsibility for the ecology are points of view that put a strain on women. If they doesn’t manage to integrate them fully into their lives, the danger is great that some aspects are suppressed by others or are simply neglected. For the rest of my life I would be happy to be able to lead many people into the world of religion, help them to discover Mary as their Mother, and allow her to lead them – to introduce them quite naturally without extraordinary things. The riches they would let slip if they don’t get to know her would be too great; it is another way of approaching the supernatural world. I would be happy to share this treasure, which was given to me without any merit on my part.