Sr. María Aracely and her Mother Nicolasa and Father Clementino Pérez.
By Sister María Aracely Pérez Chinchilla
With great devotion, I thank God every day for calling me since I was in my mother’s womb, and for bringing me to this world into a large and loving family. I am the fourth of nine siblings. We are five girls and four boys. Since I was born, I have considered my life to be a real miracle. When my mother was only six months pregnant with me, she suffered a devastating fall, from which, due to the severity of it, she thought that neither one of us would survive. However, with the help of God, we did.
I was born in Timushan, municipality of Esquipulas, Guatemala with the love of my parents: Clementino Pérez Caballeros, a man passionate about music, and Nicolasa Margarita Chinchilla Pérez, a woman of faith and prayer. Everything I have learned was thanks to the education I received from my family since I was just a little girl.
My family taught me to visit the sick and do charitable work for the neediest with a friendly and welcoming attitude. When I was young, there was always someone of limited resources coming to our house and asking for shelter. I remember my parents never refused to receive anyone; people were continually welcome into the home where I grew up. From there, I learned to help others unconditionally. And, it is something that I remember today, with great joy.
Once I finished elementary school, I became part of the choir and participated in Mass at San Benito parish, where I felt fulfilled serving God by singing. I was also part of youth groups. Being involved was a great motivation for me and gave me immense satisfaction; however, I could feel the desire for something else growing in my heart.
Since I can remember, I have always enjoyed meditation, prayer, and contemplation of nature. Doing this brings motivation into my heart and inspires me to wait and discover something more in inner silence.
CALL TO RELIGIOUS LIFE
The desire to devote myself to religious life awoke in me when I was 16-years-old. It was at that time that I met the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, who had just arrived for the first time on a mission to San Benito Timushan parish. Sr. Vicenta Miranda welcomed me, and it was at that moment that I realized I was being called and had an immense desire to learn more about the Congregation.
I was so excited about meeting the Sisters that at that time I wrote a letter and sent it to the convent in Esquipilas, without even asking my parents for their permission first. When I got an answer, my parents asked me if I had sent a letter to the Sisters and my response was “Yes, I sent it because I want to meet them and learn more about them.” I could feel a deep desire to enter the convent. The feeling that consumed me was so great that I overcame every challenge I faced along the journey until I was able to start my first years of Formation and Continuing Formation.
At first, some members of my family did not agree with me entering the convent. Even other people advised me not to do it. However, God’s call was much more powerful. It was like a burning flame in my heart, and I could not help it, or do what others said. My conviction, emotion, purpose, strength, and love for God were much stronger.
Then, I learned that to enter religious life it was necessary to study a technical career. During that time, I went to El Hogar de mi Hermano, a nursing home located in the municipality of Esquipulas. There, I put into practice joyful service with the elderly. While listening attentively, praying the Holy Rosary and the liturgy during Holy Mass, I could see the comforting presence of Jesus in the tired faces of the people I served. Many were overwhelmed by old age and sickness. It was a time of personal conversion for me, as I was genuinely shocked to see so many abandoned elderly in great suffering.
When I had the opportunity to travel and arrive at the convent, the Sisters were waiting for me with great joy. They accepted me with genuinely hospitable and welcoming love, and I felt confident about my vocation. It was the time when I fell even more in love with CCVI’s Charism and Spirituality.
Now, I can assure you that devoting my life to Jesus ́s mission has been truly worth it. It’s something that I cannot compare to anything else. Now, God’s timing is perfect. I have lived experiences that have left a mark on me forever, and have allowed me to discover the vocation to which I have a purpose. With my continued prayer and the process of discernment, I now realize that this is what God has planned for me.
At first, I was scared and full of questions. However, I could feel the love of God growing stronger every day, which kept me determined. I am sure that God calls and He is never mistaken. The burning flame which is the light of love united to Christ stays alive.
I made a change of life to serve the Kingdom of God, embrace the Incarnate Word, and embody his love forever. It was through my journey of service to the poor and needy that I realized community life would make me truly happy. So, it was God who showed me my path. Now, I have the support of my whole family, the Sisters of the Congregation, and my friends.
I’ve learned that I must focus on the things that last forever, and leave fear behind. God is the one who takes care of everything. All I need is peace, joy, trust, humility, and obedience to God’s will for my life, every day. If I draw near to God, he will provide me with the strength to take the next step. With a will for Christ, everything is possible. Nothing that can disturb this light that I have inside.
I knock at the door and you, my Lord, answer it. I enter, and you welcome me. You receive me with tender love, and you let me stay in your house. You invite me to your table and share with me exquisite meals. You feed me the Word of God and contemplative prayer. You show me the path to the Charism and Spirituality of the Incarnate Word. You share your community experiences with me. You guide me along the way in the Kingdom of God in the Church. You are my guide and teacher at all times. Now, I say to you “Thank you, Lord!” You call me by name, and I answer you. Here I am Lord, to do your will.
Sisters Mary Patricia, María Magdelena, María Aracely, Kevina and Edis Marilú.