Towards the end of Mass in the Basilica on 3 October, at the moment of thanksgiving, those making the 2021 offering pronounced the prayer that expresses the Association’s gratitude for Our Lady’s protection and for all the gifts received during the year. There was a feeling of emotion among those who attended as strict anti-Covid measures last year had prevented people from travelling. However, on that occasion, a small group were able to keep the tradition and present an offering to Our Lady on behalf of the Association in spite of the restrictions.
Mass was presided by the Archbishop of Oviedo, Jesús Sanz and the Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid, Carlos Osoro, accompanied by the auxiliary bishop José Cobo and the Episcopal Vicar José Luis Segovia. It was the Mass of Our Lady with the Gospel reading that tells of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth.
Cardinal Osoro spoke in his homily about the close relationship of the Teresian Association with this place and with the Blessed Mother. He referred to some of the founder’s writings as he pointed out how they can speak to today’s need for a more humane world at a time of fear and darkness. The Spirit dispels these fears, as happened in the case of the first disciples. The Cardinal reminded us that Pedro Poveda always said that Jesus Christ, and no other, is the focal point.
The event began on the evening of 2 October with a prayer vigil held in the Basilica with the participation of pilgrims from different parts of Spain. We listened to the dreams of young people from different countries which we had previously recorded. You will find the videos at the bottom of this page. Their words echoed in the silence and spoke of the beatitudes in our times: “In this year reflecting on the wisdom of goodness, we have tried to listen with gentle and humble hearts to the cries of the world. We ask for wisdom in how we listen so that we can really see the world as it is, to hear and to understand”.
Messages from those making the offering
On Sunday at 9:00 a.m., each of those making the offering gave a presentation and spoke of their mission and experience of the charism. This year those eight people were from Brazil, Taiwan, Belgium, Equatorial Guinea and various parts of Spain. The event was open to the public and was held in the Basilica. It could be followed from other parts of the world by means of the Covadonga live online channel, despite initial difficulties caused by a gale that hit these mountains in Asturias the night before.
Carmen Aragonés, director of the TA Spain sector, expressed her joy at being able to welcome a large group of people to accompany the offering. She recalled the significance of Covadonga for the Association and how the name is used for several projects. She thanked the Abbot of Covadonga, Adolfo Mariño, and the cathedral chapter for their welcome and for their kindness and facilities provided for this annual event.
The Teresian Association President, Maite Uribe, reminded us that we are just a few days away from the opening of the Synod, and she commended to the Blessed Mother “our desire to set out on this journey with Christians everywhere, to follow the synodal process inclusively in our local churches, and so help to build up communities where all participate and share responsibility” She went on to say, “this year, you dear friends who are making the offering during our 2021 pilgrimage, it is through you that the Association is expressing its desire to continue to offer the world our commitment to the task of education, our availability to assist in cultural transformation, our response to help those directly or indirectly affected by the pandemic, and our constructive perspective as we continue to care for the planet and build societies that are more democratic, fair and supportive”. Please click here to download tjhe Message in English.
The speakers in turn took the floor. We were reminded that Susana Beatriz Sacavino, from Brazil, and Mei Ching Chen, from Taiwan, were unable to be in Covadonga due to travel restrictions. They recorded their presentations in writing and in videos.
Susana Beatriz Sacavino spoke of how hers was a pilgrimage from the Americas to make an offering of the Nuevamerica/Novamerica Magazine. Several countries are involved in this project and they have published it uninterruptedly for more than four decades. The pilgrimage is an invitation to continue on that path with courage, judgement, lucidity and discernment and to ensure that each issue will provide new proposals for transformation and hope that will help it to live up to its motto La Revista de la Patria Grande [The Great Homeland Journal].
Mei Ching Chen told us about her country where Catholics are a minority. It is here that she listened to the Spirit and, accompanied by the charism offered by Pedro Poveda, she helped in the growth of the small seed that is the Teresian Association. “God is surprising”, she concluded poetically after telling us about how she has seen the ACIT group grow in Taiwan.
Julia Maria Gonzalez presented the dreams of young people from four continents. She focussed on four EDIW projects that began as dreams and that are now taking shape. She pointed out that Our Lady allowed herself to be part of God’s dream and that there in Covadonga, in the presence of the Blessed Mother, she prayed that our dreams may always arise from the wisdom of goodness.
The Poveda Secretariat of TA Educational Centres in Spain was represented by María Ruíz and Irma Carballo. They spoke on behalf of all the students, teachers, families, administrative and service staff and volunteers in all the schools and centres that are part of this Network. They reviewed the values that have been emphasised and strengthened in recent years. The motto for 2021-2022 is: Conecta2 ContiGO! [Connected to you]. They brought the voices of the students before the Santina.
Gemma Cortés recounted her experience as a primary care doctor in an outpatient clinic on the outskirts of Barcelona. The intensity of the emotions she experienced during the pandemic was a path of spiritual depth that has left its mark on her. As a mother and member of the ACIT association, she feels grateful to the TA, to her family and to her colleagues with whom she has been sharing these arduous months.
Antonio Jabalera, director of the Padre Poveda School in the neighbourhood of the caves in Guadix, spoke about that place − he himself comes from there – and the work that Pedro Poveda started there and of which he considers himself to be a product. He also told us about the experience of solidarity implemented at the school during the months of lockdown to meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable students and their families.
Carlos Daniel Ondo, wearing a costume from his African homeland, told his personal story. Despite his visual impairment and thanks to the work of the TA at the Centro Virgen María de África in Malabo in Equatorial Guinea, he has managed to continue his studies. He is presently finishing his baccalaureate in Jaén in Spain, and he is training to help other children. His testimony, accompanied by the rhythm of his Braille reader, deepened the emotional silence of those present.
Cardinal Carlos Osoro, Archbishop of Madrid, recalled his first meeting with a group of the TA shortly after his ordination to the priesthood in the diocese of Santander, and how he became interested in the figure of St Pedro Poveda. Since then he has maintained an interest in following in Poveda’s footsteps and getting to know the TA and seeking to get to know its founder better and better. He said that there has always been continuity in his relationship and knowledge of the TA, and that the TA has been a house of hope, a house of commitment, a house of rest, a house of friendship. St Pedro Poveda and the TA, with its life and mission, is telling him that we have to enter into the ‘culture of care’. He offered some points for this caring culture: care for faith, prayer, study, unity, truth and care for the Church. “Thank you, Santina de Covadonga, and thank you St Pedro Poveda, for the TA”, he concluded.
The presence of young people
When we make this offering every year, there is always a presence of young people who share the charism of the Association through its educational establishments, projects, youth movements and individual contact. Maite Uribe emphasised that, “this year, we would particularly like to focus on the potential of the charism to mobilise young people. It can inspire them to be creative and enterprising in seeking new responses to the challenges of justice and solidarity at local and international level”.
Young people who had been invited by EDIW would have liked to make the pilgrimage to Covadonga. However, they could not go as a precautionary measure due to the risk of contagion in certain areas. They recorded video messages presenting Our Lady with their dreams and desires for a more humane and just world.
At the end of the Mass, the greetings and the joy of coming together were once again prominent. Those who were not leaving immediately shared a meal to conclude Covadonga 2021, a Teresian Association event that is extended to local celebrations around the world and so allows us all to share the experience.
TA Information Department.
TA Translators Team.