Augustinian Recollect Secular Fraternity in Getafe, Madrid, Spain.

Maricela Valles is a member of the Secular Augustinian Recollect Fraternity of Our Lady of Buenavista, in Getafe (Madrid, Spain). With her testimony, she tells how the Augustinian Recollect charism has burst into her life, from the most intimate to his way of relating to others.

My name is Maricela del Carmen Valles. I have been married to Miguel Hamelynck for 36 years and we have three beautiful daughters. Venezuelan of origin and with Spanish nationality, during the 23 years that she has been in Getafe I dedicate myself to family tasks and to collaborate with the Our Lady of Buenavista Parish, ecclesial community in which, as they say, I am “pluriactive”.

My Augustinian vocation in the Secular Fraternity is a gift from God in my life. I live it as a service to the brethren from this charism that promotes Interiority, Community and Recollection. I feel grateful to God for putting me on this pilgrimage, in which I have been growing as a Christian. I did the promises on January 17, 2009, I have been local formation manager, secretary of the previous Council National of Spain and, currently, its president.

Shortly after arriving in Spain in the year 2000, we settled in Getafe and began to participate in the local Parish, Our Lady of Buenavista, in which the Augustinian Recollects served. In the first mass I attended, they asked for volunteers for Catechesis and it crossed my mind tooffer myself, given that for eleven years I had worked in a religious school in Venezuela. But at the end, I didn’t.

Later we participated in a marriage meeting in another place. A couple invited us to give workshops premarital; things of God, it turned out that they were from the Buenavista Parish. It was already the second call that made my heart vibrate. So this time we said yes. Little by little I was integrated into the activities of the Parish. God used the religious so that my heart began to open to the Augustinian charism. We participated in the Premarital Cursillos, then I collaborated with the Communion Catechesis and they invited me to attend the Confirmation Catechesis, sacrament that he had not yet received.

Finally, we were invited to the Secular Fraternity. I had no idea what that was, it was news to me. everyone in the Parish, I didn’t even know who Saint Augustine was before arriving in Getafe. Right away I said yes, I felt happy, grateful, a flame was lit that burned more and more strongly, which gave me a warmth that I missed family, friends, community.

It has been a learning, training and integration process; but above all to feel that God noticed in me, small, weak, sinful, simply one more that sought in prayer to fill me with his love for the word. We began to know Saint Augustine, the Rule of Life and other writings… Each meeting was enthusiasm, affection, and teachings. The simplicity, humility and tenderness with which the charism was shared, the passion for his vocation as our religious adviser… I began to feel the action of the Holy Spirit.

My heart became more and more restless, more in need of finding God. I searched and found peace, joy, understanding, I managed to see light and it filled me so much that I searched for more and more i learn to look at my inside it was very difficult for me, I was afraid, but I discovered that there God makes me live his mercy, despite my weaknesses he is always with me, in me.

That Augustinian pillar of Interiority was permeating. My faith was strengthened, my confidence and security in the God’s goodness grew. At that time, I was going through a process of adaptation full of nostalgia, sadness, family, social and material attachments. My attachment to the distant Maracaibo was so strong that I could not open my eyes and see what God offered me. My heart was closed. But I began to live with others, I was making community; I felt that I could walk together with others, abandon the solitude of that attachment.

The Augustinian Recollect Family began to be part of my family. In the same way that I accepted and recognized that in my own family there was no perfection, I learned that in community we walk together and stumble, we were wrong; but God always forgives us and offers us his light to be better Christians every day.

That’s why I look for the good side, the beautiful and the cool of each person, I look for that light of God that each one carries in the heart, which lights the way; I discovered that God is with me, he is before me, and he is behind me, in the people who are part of my life.

Matching my heartbeat with others is a blessing from God. In and in with my neighbor I find meaning in life. God lives in each one and I strive to believe, accept and value it. When despite my weaknesses and insecurities, I discover that God is present in others, that they are instruments to feel and receive God’s love, I deeply understand my own love for others.

I usually let myself be carried away by impulse, I express without limits what I feel, I give free rein to my feelings.

Sometimes I end up with tears, anguish, regrets… But most of the time I say “I love you” and “thank you”, I give strong hugs, I offer smiles; I dare to live with passion every minute. And everyone loves me like this with my passionate heartbeat, that all I want is to be happy with my brothers.

One piece of advice that I always give is to listen: to God, to his Word, to our heart and to our brother, where there is also the voice of God. And, together, let ourselves be carried away by the rhythm of prayer, of the Word, of the silence that helps to listen to God and the splendor of the beauties of God in Creation.