The works sometimes tie us down, and we want to keep the new wine in old wineskins” (1/2)

Sister Nieves Mari Castro was born in Granada, Spain. Once she completed the novitiate, the field of her apostolic work was the Parish of Saint Blase, in Madrid. SHe made her perpetual profession in Las Gabias, Granada in 1989. Two years later she moved to Venezuela and dedicated herself to educational ministry in Caracas and Maracaibo, work that he reconciles with ministry in some marginalized neighborhoods. She spent twenty-one years in Venezuela, where she held various government positions until she was entrusted with the office of mistress of novices in the novitiate house of the Congregation, located in Bogotá (2012-2017). In 2017 she was elected provincial superior, a position she continues to hold today, residing in the general curia in Leganés, Madrid.
Nieves Mari Castro News | 2022 May 10

In the performance of her functions, she has numerous studies and degrees in the field of Humanities, Theology and Augustinology.


First of all, Sister Nieves Mari, in a few words, who are the Augustinian Recollect Missionaries?

We are a missionary congregation, we were born for justice in the Ad Gentes mission of China.

From the exuberance of love, the mission springs forth, says Saint Augustine, therefore, prayer is the source of our missionary dynamism, without it there is no inspiration or listening to the Spirit.

Being missionaries makes us fruitful women, therefore, we become spiritual mothers, mothers who welcome, correct and teach with love.

As contemplatives in action, we find God in the neighbor who walks beside us. We want to be women passionate about Jesus and his Kingdom and committed to the proclamation of the Gospel that has been entrusted to us.

We have in Saint Augustine an inspiring model. A man with a big heart who lived friendship in the community, in unanimity of hearts, inspired by the first Christian community.

We are present in 10 countries "personally and communally encouraging and promoting the explicit proclamation of Christ" in parish and educational ministry, in mission fields, being "our first mission field the community itself in its constant search for charity, attending special way to our older sisters.”

The history of the MAR ( Missionaries  Augustinian  Recollect Sisters) has walked alongside the Augustinian Recollects in important moments for both; is that so?

Father Javier Pipaón, who was prior general, in his last report on the state of the Order of the Augustinian Recollects, will dedicate a space to the Augustinian Recollect Missionaries and in it he will indicate about our membership in the Order, where more notes could hardly coincide Augustinian Recollects in the birth of a religious Congregation than those that meet at the origin of the MAR. The founder was Monsignor Francisco Javier Ochoa, Augustinian Recollect, first bishop of Shangqiu, who had the collaboration of Mother Esperanza Ayerbe, a cloistered Augustinian Recollect nun, and two other nuns of the same Order, sisters María Ángeles García and Carmela Ruiz. ; they came from the monasteries of the Incarnation in Madrid, the first, and Corpus Christi in Granada, the other two. And they were founded to work in the missionary apostolate of the prelature of Kweiteh (Shangqiu), entrusted by the Holy See to the Augustinian Recollects.

This Congregation, since its inception, has received many gestures of life from the Order that support its belonging to it.

In our Constitutions, n. 10 says the following: “We propose the extension of the Kingdom of God and the sanctification of his name, using the means of evangelization that the Church indicates in the different fields, among others: in missions, with preference to those entrusted to the Augustinian Recollects …” and, shoulder to shoulder, we are with them, where this is possible.

What keeps a Superior General up at night?

I would not like to associate insomnia with the exercise of being superior general. I think we can all get insomnia due to different circumstances. But I am very concerned about the issue of formation at all levels, beginning with vocational ministry, emphasizing the initial and of course, the permanent. The issue of promoters and formators is worrying in our congregational reality. For this reason, I think that working on leadership, formation and accompaniment, with the transversal axis of discernment, is very necessary.

In just 75 years of history, two nuns from his congregation, Mother Esperanza Ayerbe and Sister Cleusa Coelho, walk towards the altars; Is holiness possible today?

Of course! What if it wasn't? None of us would be on this path. The Christian follows Christ and follows him by vocation and because there is a promise of eternity given by the Lord; promise of full meaning, search and deep encounter with the Truth. Holiness is living in the love of Christ; in the love that Jesus has ordered us, that in the walk of each day has to be purified and refined. A humble life in union with the Lord enables us to grow in him, in his friendship and dedication to others.

In your opinion, what has been the most important event in these 75 years?

Recognize Mother Esperanza Ayerbe de la Cruz as venerable, with all that this process has entailed and, on the other hand, recognize in the murder of Sister Cleusa Coelho in Lábrea, her martyrdom for the faith and the Gospel, whose process is in progress.

Having the name “Missionaries” produces fear, vertigo, illusion?

It gives me passion. The years that are taking place increase the desire to love and serve the Lord, to build his Kingdom betting on Him, on the Gospel, and planting myself where obedience plants me so that, from my poverty and the gift received, I can bear witness and give him glory As you advance on this path of consecration, it becomes more apparent that I am sent and that I do not choose the mission, or where to be, or with whom, or how.

It is not easy at all, but I want to be ready for everything that the Lord presents to me as his will, to open my ears, as a disciple, to listen to him. Wanting to seek God's will together with my sisters is already a project of happiness and a challenge that puts me on the path every day.

Can you be happy being religious?

Religious life is a way to be happy. I have met and know happy religious men and women, who passed and pass through my life leaving a deep mark. This encourages me along the way, because loving the Lord, having felt the gift of vocation and His saving action, in the midst of so many difficulties and temptations, puts me in tune with His mercy. I have experienced such great mercy, and this is what makes me happy with the Lord. Despite all my sins and temptations, I am here, I am still here, and I want to live for him.

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Augustinian Recollects Province of St. Nicholas of Tolentine.

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