Wednesday, 24 February 2016 00:00

Maite Uribe in Cuba meets Catholic laity. Invites them to have a solid formation


Addressing a group of Cuban laity of the Diocese of Holguín, the president of the Teresian Association, Maite Uribe Bilbao, invited the participants to live their baptismal responsibility in the midst of a changing society, stressing several important aspects in their formation.

"Cuba is facing a future that will become increasingly more pluralistic, both in the civil society as well as in the Church", she said. “This future will challenge the citizens and the communities”, she continued, as she invited her listeners to obtain an updated and anthropological formation "that might help others in their attitudes at this particular moment."

These attitudes, she added, include: the ability to think for yourself, without been swayed by pressures or by trends, the ability to develop critical thinking, to take initiatives, to discern what is better for this historical moment and the capacity to accompany pluralism and diversity, but always from a personal stand and a clear identity. With all this, to be able to fill with content the vacuum of values ​​that may occur in today’s society.

During the meeting at the Diocesan Center for Lay Formation St. Arnold Janssen, she pointed out as another major attitude, the development of a strong spiritual inner life that "will help to live reconciliation and forgiveness from a friendship with Jesus" - A spirituality that "allows the accompaniment of the different sensitivities in the faith experiences lived by diverse generations and different cultures".

She invited them “to develop a sense of belonging to the Church based on 
responsibility and communion." She recalled the style of Pope Francis "who searches in the peripheries the excluded and marginalized people "from our gaze of faith and 
our friendship with Jesus".

In her talk on Saturday, February 13th she recalled that the Cuban Church celebrates
this month the 30th anniversary of the Cuban National Ecclesial Encounter known as ENEC that took place in 1986, which had been prepared with several years of reflection on all Catholic communities on the island and produced a document that has marked the life of the Cuban church ever since. She noted the deep coincidences between the commitments of the Cuban Church at that event: to be an incarnate, prayerful and missionary Church and the spirituality that St. Pedro Poveda wanted for the members of the Teresian Association: a group committed to the dialogue faith and culture, with a prayerful and missionary character, inspired by the spirit of dialogue and contemplation of St. Teresa of Jesus.

"Join to your faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge," wrote St. Pedro Poveda in 1931
addressing the members. "The spirit is the first element in our work ... but with the spirit I place science, and I believe that spirit and knowledge is the substantial form of the 
Association. Both things, virtue and knowledge must be strong and robust."

Maite Uribe highlighted these aspects having had numerous contacts with the laity in
30 countries where the members of the TA live and work. She shared some of her experiences in Africa, Asia, America and Europe and as a conclusion she made reference to the figure of St. Pedro Poveda (1874-1936) and to the Cuban priest Father Felix Varela Morales (1788-1853) today venerable, who like Poveda was a committed diocesan priest, educator, Seminary professor and writer.

"Both lived their current moment in an incarnated way", she said. Poveda involved in
the educational issues which occupied the work and political debate at the time, and
Varela, in the political action related to the independent future of the nation.
Both were concerned with the future and with youth, and with a singular relevance to their present moment. Poveda with his activities among those on the "fringes" living in the "caves" of Guadix; Varela, from his exile, with the immigrants and marginalized in the southern part of Manhattan, New York, where he combined  the parish work with his responsibilities as parish Vicar General.

She mentioned the fact that many writings from both of them are preserved. Poveda wrote a lot to form the young women carrying out his project, the Teresian Association. Varela, in New York, was still thinking of Cuba and on how to instill civic values
into his former students, teaching them to 'to think well', creating in them
a greater awareness of the national and cultural identity of the island, and nourishing the dream of a free and sovereign homeland.

His Cuban readers, were very familiar with his Letters to Elpidio, by Fr. Varela, in which the author  addresses his interlocutor Elpidio ( "Elpis” in Greek etymology means hope), telling him: “You Elpidio (hope) tell the youth… that they are the sweet hope of the Nation, and that there is not nation without virtue, neither virtue with impiety."

Maite Uribe recalled how, during the recent meeting of Pope Francis
with the youth before the Varela Cultural Center in the Archdiocese of Havana, 
he invited them to dream and to live the culture of the encounter in order to achieve "the sweet hope of the Nation".

He told the young Cubans: “Eh! Open yourselves and dream, dream that the world 
can be different with you. Everyone sometimes dreams of things that will never happen. But dream, dream, seek new horizons, open up, open yourself up to great things. "
To Maite Uribe the analogy was very clear. In 1933 Spain was going through moments of change in which youth organizations became protagonists of the most radical events in the country. Poveda encouraged the youth of the T.A. not to sit idly.
In the Archives of the Association there is the script of a meeting of Pedro Poveda
with youth in September of that year.



"Who makes history, who made Spain? the students, the young people. They prepared it and brought it about. Who are those who react? The young. Who are the bravest, the most daring, and risky? The young. Who are those with ideals, those who forget themselves, who kindle the fire? The youth.

You ask me now what can you do? You can conquer the world, neither more nor less ...
And there is still more, who made this Work so great? Who overcame the
great difficulties of this great Project? Who spread the Work –the Teresian Association? The young.

If you were like them, there would be nothing to gain anymore. You have
come to the Association when it was already done; you come to pick up the fruits, to live the life others left. Do you ask me again what you can do? Oh! Youth,
powerful instrument, almost omnipotent arm, strength of the world! Give thanks to God because He brought you young to represent the sacred interests. We are young, we can do anything well".

To the audience listening to her conference in Holguin, and recalling these
two figures, the TA Directress said, "you young at heart and diocesan laity
I dare repeat with St. Pedro Poveda and Father Felix Varela

You came to this Church, to this Country, to pick up the fruits, to live the life that others left. What can you do? You are powerful instruments, omnipotent arm, and strength of the world. Give thanks to God for being young and for having been brought by God to represent the sacred interests… You are young, you can do anything.

Acquire a solid formation and do not forget that "You are the sweet hope of the Nation”.

Araceli Cantero Guibert, from Holguin, Cuba



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