On June 1, 1864, the doors of the Asilo de Nuestra Señora del Consuelo opened in Ciempozuelos (Madrid) and thus began the work which, six years later, would give rise to our Congregation: the Oblate Sisters of the Most Holy Redeemer. Inmaculada Ruíz de Baluguera, OSR, author of the book ‘Recuerdos’ (Memories), tells the story from the letters that bear witness to the events that led to the beginning of the work:
“It was in Easter Week when everything was decided,” says Antonia. “The Bishop had already taken the decisive steps to obtain ecclesiastical and civil approval. The girls are barely waiting for a house to be opened because they hold back as long as they can from the doctor’s discharge, which would put them on the street from morning to night… Where, where, my God? Where… because they are being shut out everywhere… Where? Where?
Serra called all the established houses and, given certain insurmountable inconveniences, expressed himself as follows: “Something must be done in Madrid or nearby and, if all the doors are closed to these unfortunate women, I will open somewhere they can be saved”.
Extracted from letter 131, pages 388 and 389 of BH. Vo.l IV 1
“This was too painful for me to witness without being determined to do something in their favour”, and Serra goes on to say: “The house is taken in Ciempozuelos not far from this Court and even partly furnished. A fairly well-to-do and very pious lady has determined to devote everything she has and even her own person to a work of such charity”. Letter 140. Page 425.
And then came June 1864. The women, orphans of affection, wounded by injustice and misunderstanding, were anxiously awaiting entry into that house with open doors where they could smell of home, taste the bread of true welcome and rest in the embrace that the arms of Antonia and Serra lavished from their maternal womb. In that relationship of equality, women felt well accompanied and began to design and dream of a future of freedom and dignity.
These are 157 years of stories shared with so many women and in so many different places, but always in creative fidelity to that first intuition and then to the charisma. Today it is extended to laypeople and the whole Oblate family. And today, we will also celebrate the feast at the crossroads. Together we are creating and offering routes of freedom and mercy at the crossroads. “They, the women and the Redeemer, show us the way”.