Růžena Jurečková

Born in 1949 in Czech Republic as the oldest of five children in the family of a farmer; studied at the Technical University / Agricultural College in Brno; married, 5 children, 22 grandchildren; belongs to the Schoenstatt Movement Women and Mothers.

What experiences have formed you as a woman?

I was born in Czechoslovakia after the communist upheaval in 1949 as the oldest of five children (2 daughters, 3 sons) in the family of a farmer who rejected collectivism. Therefore, my family was treated as an “enemy of the socialist regime.” My parents were practicing Catholics and the first experience that shaped me as a woman was their consistent and friendly sense of justice, order and faithfulness to the commandments of God – and that under all conditions. My parents demanded just and consistent fulfillment of all obligations (at home, in the field, in the stable, at school, in the spiritual life), from daughters as well as from sons. This gave me self-confidence in life, so that as a girl and later as a woman I would be just as valued, welcomed and loved by my parents and by God as my brothers. That it is not my gender, but what I do and how I do it that is decisive. (My contemporaries in their families mostly had the opposite experience, which marked them for their whole life).
A second, even more important experience during my studies at the Agricultural College in Brno was the encounter with Jarmila Smyčková. At that time (1969) I certainly did not know that she was a Sister of Mary – Sr. M. Květa – who lived anonymously because of political persecution.ç
I respected her as an older, very good friend, who I visited and chatted with for 2-3 hours with a fellow student every month during the academic year. During these four years, she told us about the Blessed Mother, the history of Schoenstatt, Father Kentenich, and she introduced us to the whole Schoenstatt pedagogy and spirituality. These were outstanding hours in which, as a young woman, she gradually opened my eyes and widened my gaze to the Virgin Mary. She told us about the image of woman, how it is in God’s plan, what hopes God has for us women, and what we should become – little Marys, a reflection of the Mother of Jesus! We saw that Jarmila lived what she spoke of with such enthusiasm! It had a deep, very deep effect on me back then in socialist Czechoslovakia! Jarmila was interrogated several times by the STB (secret police) and her house had been searched. She was pure, brave and had deep childlike trust in God. Just as we came to her in twos, there were several other girls and young women she met with, but only two at a time – larger groups were not possible.
During these encounters the image of the Blessed Mother was placed in my heart as. The ideal for women. Little by little during these years I have acquired an intimate relationship with the Blessed Mother. Later on, the longing grew in me to let her educate me, to consecrate myself to her, to solve all my problems with her, to decide with her and to implement my decisions with her… Later on, I entrusted her with my husband and the marriages of our 5 children, who were born one after the other… and not only their upbringing, but the whole course of their lives.
I would like to say that what I brought from home laid the foundation. What I received from the MTA through the Covenant of Love was a wonderful gift that cannot be compared to anything else, a gift that transforms the woman from within and forms her according to the Blessed Mother’s ideal – the most beautiful and highest example. I cannot thank the Blessed Mother enough for the gift of the Covenant of Love!

Where have you experienced God in your life?

I experienced God very clearly from my youth, when I became aware of Him with the help of my parents: He protected us. Therefore, the Communists didn’t liquidate us, they didn’t put our parents in prison. They didn’t lock us children up in a children’s home for re-education (which was possible in the 1950s), and in spite of everything, I was able to study at the technical college, at least, because children from such anti-communist families had no chance to study at the university.
I realized that God is here with us, with me, that He hears our pleas, especially when my 6-year-old sister was seriously injured by a car. Our whole family prayed for her. She was lame, but gradually she could slowly return to normal life. Today she has 3 adult children who have formed Catholic families themselves.
While studying the scientific disciplines that precede the professional agricultural fields, I was amazed at the work of God, at the coherence, logic and beauty of His creation. Often I could not part with my textbooks until deep into the night, when I thought about how outstanding the work God has created and the Creator Himself is!
Then God gave me a good man to marry and later my family: 5 children, 22 grandchildren… I perceived all this as an incredible gift from God, as a loving encounter with Him, as His tangible presence in my life.
I also experienced God very strongly when we prayed for those people who strayed from God’s path but found their way back to Him – this joy, the amazement about the miracle of conversion! We experienced the fact that God is greater, more powerful than human wickedness!
I also experience God in the beautiful and supportive community of our large family of blood relatives (my late parents had 5 children, 23 grandchildren, and now 71 great-grandchildren); every year at the end of October we meet for a Holy Mass, followed by a meal together, and then an evening of sharing, and it gives us all a lot of joy. Similarly as in our biological family, we also experience God in our spiritual Schoenstatt Family. The beautiful, supporting relationships in our community of Schoenstatt Mothers, whose mutual love is shown through solidarity in difficult and joyful situations, are a sign of the living presence of God for me.

What do you see as the challenge for women today?

Our society urgently needs self-confident women who are firmly anchored in the social order of God and who live their womanhood to the full. They are able to remain real women (in spite of the current gender trend) and offer in their womanhood what is most directly proper to women: to serve life and protect it from conception to natural death, to empathize with the situation of others, to see their needs, to make sacrifices for their well-being, to get by with little, to see everything in the context of what is happening around them and to make right decisions in accordance with the laws of God, society and nature and to act accordingly.
Today, one challenge for women is also to seek and find a good man and not to be afraid to live with him in a lasting lifelong relationship. Likewise, not to be afraid to bear children, to educate them and, by their example, to form the children together – and, most importantly, not to be afraid to make appropriate demands on their children so that they can grow up healthy.

What would you like to change in this world through your life?

First and foremost, with the help of the Blessed Mother, I want to educate myself to become the kind of woman that God had planned, specifically: The woman that God intended me to be. Then I want to change the world around me by bearing witness to Christ through my life in today’s society, with longing and with the goal that people find the way to Him, that they approach Him, get to know Him, establish a relationship with Him – fall in love with Him. My contribution to this is the fully lived Covenant of Love, in which I surrender everything to the Blessed Mother.