Sisters Diana Patricia Ballesteros and Marlene Francisco have renewed their vows as Oblates of the Most Holy Redeemer. This reaffirmation of their “yes” on their part is a moment of special joy for the entire Congregation and, in particular, for their communities in the provinces of José María Benito Serra and Santísimo Redentor, respectively.
Accompanied by their sisters, they expressed once again their desire to live their Oblate vocation and thus allow Jesus and the women to show them the way. Today they share their experience of this renewal and how the Oblate charism manifests itself in their realities.
Marlene Bravo (São Paulo, Brazil)
With great joy and grateful heart, on September 6, I renewed once again my vows as Oblate together with my sisters of the community Nossa Senhora do Perpétuo Socorro, in Sao Paulo (Brazil).
To renew my vows is to say YES to the Lord, that is, YES out of love, for a great mission, the same YES that I said 12 years ago I continue to repeat every day of my life. Even as I have to face the challenges of a capitalist, sexist, consumerist system, or the challenges I face in my mission, I reaffirm my response to the call that God makes me hear.
To renew my vows is to say, “Lord, I give you my life every day” as a sign of love, gratitude, oblation, fidelity, commitment to your life project, and the mission that He entrusts to me. It is to continue to witness the mission towards women in the context of prostitution and/or victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation. It means to be a presence and a sign of mercy, acceptance, tenderness, care, listening, and empathy.
As the song says, “a city like any other, send me on a great mission.” I am Angolan, they sent me on a mission here in Brazil three years ago, passing through Salvador Bahia, and now I am in Santo Amaro – Sao Paulo. I live my vocation, especially being faithful to the life project of the love of Jesus, in joy and daily gift with my sisters, with the people who need it most, and with the women served in the Oblate project.
Here at Projeto Antonia, I work with women to deconstruct the prejudices that we create during our lives as a result of building a masculine, patriarchal and moralistic society that only knows how to blame, censor and judge without knowing many times the causes that bring a woman to the world of prostitution.
We learn to respect the processes of others. We have identified what women need, and we have been working together ever since. But more than teaching, I learn a lot from women, every day I become more human with the life story of every woman, I admire the ability she has to solve problems, face difficulties, the feminine strength they bring, resilience, the struggle for survival, faith, even with all the stones on the road, can smile at life.
Diana Patricia Ballesteros (Medellin)
I lived this renewal with immense gratitude and joy for having felt called and committed to this project of life and Redemption. On this day, we gather as a community to celebrate the Eucharist, food that strengthens us to carry out our mission.
God renews his covenant with me, encouraging me to persevere and reaffirm my response. I dedicate myself, and I open my heart to continue to form my life and to carry out his will in me, for His glory and the service of the Church in women in prostitution, victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation, just like all my brothers and sisters.
I live my vocation with a deep trust in God, adapting myself to the novelty that the pandemic situation has brought at this time, an uncertain and challenging situation, but which has also allowed us to learn new things and to seek new ways of living and fulfilling our mission.
I live my vocation with commitment, responsibility, and dedication in all that can be done in favor of women in situations of prostitution, assisted in Medellín, in communication with them through digital media, in constant prayer for their needs and dreams.
I try to be a sign of joy and hope for the women and people I have contact with because, at a time like this, we all need words and gestures that will encourage us to come out of this situation with more strength to live and be better human beings.