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 published: 2005-09-27

An ally in heaven

Raquel Saenz Valiente, foundress of the Schoenstatt Volunteers of Mary returned to the House of the Father


Logo del Voluntariado de María

Logo of the Volunteers of Mary

Logo der Voluntarias de Maria


Raquel Sáenz Valiente, fundadora del Voluntariado de Maria

Raquel Sáenz Valiente, foundress of the Volunteers of Mary

Raquel Sáenz Valiente, Gründerin der Voluntárias de Maria


Serviendo a los enfermos

In service of the sick ones in the hospitals

Im Dienst der Kranken in den Krankenhäusern


La bandera del Voluntariado en el Santuario

The flag of the volunteers is carried into the Shrine

Die Fahne der Voluntarias wird ins Heiligtum getragen

Fotos: Echenique © 2005


ARGENTINA, Claudia Echenique. On September 12th, 2005, day of the Holy Name of Mary, Raquel Saenz Valiente, founder of the Schoenstatt Volunteers of Mary in Argentina, returned to the House of the Father.

The next day her body covered by the flag of the Volunteers of Mary was taken to the Shrine of New Schoenstatt in Florencio Varela. Soon after a prayer at the Shrine there was a mass at the Church of God our Father. Among the numerous people that filled the church many volunteers could be seen dressed in their blue uniforms. The celebration of the mass was in charge of Father Juan Pablo Catoggio with Father Guillermo Mario Cassone and Father Pablo Pol and several priests of the dioceses, who were all chaplains of the hospitals. In the homily Father Catoggio talked about the life of Raquel mentioning her love for her family, her service of God and the Church and her total dedication to the mission of Fr. Kentenich in the Covenant of Love with Mary.

At the end of the mass there was an emotional moment when her children and grandchildren sang together a last song for their mother. Raquel was buried in the cemetery "To the Father"of the Schoenstatt fathers in Florencio Varela.

She wanted to show that look to the world

Raquel Ochoa de Saenz Valiente was born in Buenos Aires on March 7th, 1937 and was married to Ignacio Saenz Valiente with whom she had seven children: Ignacio, Gervasio, Fernando, Raquel, Juana, Esteban y Julia, and 15 grandchildren.

She consecrated her life to her family and as a catholic woman she committed and worked in different tasks for the Church.

In 1981 she visited a Schoenstatt Shrine for the first time in Florencio Varela and the MTA's look change her life for ever. "I came out of the Shrine and I knew nothing would ever be the same. I wanted to show that look to the world," she used to say when remembering that moment. Mary was her model and she found in Schoenstatt and in the Covenant of Love the way to sanctity to which she always strove for. A faithful instrument of the Mater Ter Admirabilis she lived the ideal that Fr Kentenich describes in the prayer of Hymn of the Instrument:

"Let us feflect your image
and walk through life entirely like you:
strong and noble, simple and kind
sprasding love and peace and joy..."

Encouraged by Father Esteban Uriburu

Being the daughter of a physician, Raquel knew of the spiritual needs of the sick in the hospitals. Encouraged by Father Esteban Uriburu, on September 8th, 1982 she founded the Volunteers of Mary of the Schoenstatt Apostolic Movement, instrument of Divine Providence. Their mission is to assist the sick in their physical and spiritual needs, offering affection and hope in their sorrow and loneliness, bringing peace, joy and hope to help them live their every moment with the dignity of children of God.

Currently, 300 volunteers offer their help in 23 hospitals in Argentina, visiting over 1,800,000 sick patients.

With donations from people and institutions, the Volunteers of Mary built and equipped the Room Ave Maria of Intensive Therapy for patients with AIDS and a waiting room for their relatives, the first of its kind in South America at Muniz Hospital (Buenos Aires)

The Volunteers of Mary donated an ecograph for acupunctures and a fetus monitor; an infusion pump to the Maternity of Santa Rosa and a tomograph to the Hospital of Florencio Varela. In 1999 worked with the Fuente Viva Fund in the building of the House of Mary for mothers and children with AIDS.

With contributions from different institutions and parishes they distributed medicine, food, diapers, clothes, bed sheets, towels, toiletries for the patients.

A call from God to serve, to be transparencies of His love for us

Raquel Saenz Valiente's concern was not only to attend the needs of the sick but also the spiritual education of the volunteers of Mary. During personal interaction as well as when talking to large audiences she radiated the certainty that the mission of the Volunteers is the call of God to serve, to be transparencies of the love of God for us. Thus, like small Marie's, establish fraternity bonds among the volunteers, in the hospital environment and in the Schoenstatt Family.

Convinced of the importance of the Holy Eucharist in daily life, she encouraged the Adoration of the Eucharist in many places as in the Metropolitan Cathedral, starting the Commission for Unity in 1990.

Conscious of the role of women in today's society she projected and planned with the cooperation of different organizations of the Church, the First Catholic Women's Conference in 2001. As a consequence of the good response, she promoted a Conference of Women of Monotheist Faith the following year and created the Association which she presided.

When asked what will be her next project, Raquel simply said: "I would like to start the Volunteers in Burundi," to the surprise of those who listened.

If we wanted to define Raquel Saenz Valiente in a few words, we will just pray as Father Kentenich in To the Father:
"I am so intimately united with my own
that we have always seen ourselves as one.
Their sanctity is my life and insoiration;
I would gladly give my life for them." (Heavenwards, p. 126)

Translation: Carmen Barruel, USA

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