Aurora, a Chilean nun in Scotland: "We are there and it is God who acts".

Sister Maria Aurora de Esperanza is a member of the Institute of the Incarnate Word. She currently lives in a small religious community based in Scotland and spoke to Omnes about her vocation, discernment, and the work they do.

Bernard García Larraín-February 19, 2023-Reading time: 6 minutes
religious vocation

Photo: Aurora (center) with two sisters from her community in Scotland.

It is not always your turn to interview a person you knew as a child and then God leads you to venture off the beaten path. Sister Aurora has a more or less precise place in my childhood memory.

In fact, one of my earliest memories goes back to a summer vacation in southern Chile: camping in a park full of cherry blossom trees, on the shores of a lake at the gates of the mythical Chilean Patagonia, with a family friend of my parents and Aurora's family. The camp became, years later, a somewhat more stable settlement because both families decided to be pioneers by building cabins, on the shores of that same lake, to spend the summers away from civilization.

Sister Aurora was always around: at the beach, at Mass, on a walk or event, somewhere. A few years older than me, Aurora is the big sister of a friend and part of those families close to mine. One of those people who are always there, close to you, without knowing that God had a plan for her: to be a nun, to leave everything to be a missionary, many thousands of kilometers away from the Chilean land where she was born. A nun, in the 21st century. That is impressive.

An impressive reunion, after many years and many kilometers away from our country. The name by which we knew her is now a thing of the past: her name is now Maria Aurora de Esperanza. If you call her by her old name, she corrects you without hesitation.

The blonde hair has given way to a blue veil and the style of a modern young woman became a nun's habit: a simple, elegant, stylish blue. The smile and the lively and cheerful look remain, but have been enhanced.

The always striking Chilean accent, if this is possible, has been softened, neutralized, and "Argentinized" a little, perhaps due to the contact with her sisters of that nationality in the Incarnate Word Institute.

The adventurous spirit of Aurora, the globetrotter, has also been strengthened, or channeled, or found its raison d'être: the one who went from Chile to India to spend a few days with the sisters of Mother Teresa, the Chilean who traveled through Africa, where she had an accident where she lost two travel companions and was hospitalized in a country where there is no Chilean diplomatic representation.

The young woman who spent her weekends in prisons, a lively twenty-something approaching her thirties and watching her friends get married. Everyone wondered what she was waiting for, or rather, who she was waiting for.

How was your vocation to be a nun born?

-The truth is that the vocational restlessness was born when I was very young, it was a kind of secret that I had no intention of revealing to anyone.

I did not want to be a nun. I always felt that God was asking me for something else. As if I wanted to "listen to him" but did not want to give a "yes" to what he was asking of me, I channeled my concerns into social aid, I wanted to change the world... But that was not enough, deep down I knew that God wanted me all for himself.

In my desire to change the world, the world was changing me, the ideals I had as a child, the desire to do something great, what I dreamed of being, were fading... My faith was darkening, the criteria of the world, the "party" -not in its positive sense- and everything that surrounds it, the empty enjoyment, the lack of convictions...

I was nothing like I had dreamed of being. And I felt that gaze from above questioning me, "What are you doing with your life? By God's grace I saw the need to order my life back to Him and part of that order was to make a discernment about my vocation.

And here I am, very happy and infinitely grateful to God for having given me the gift of vocation to religious lifeI am about to profess my perpetual vows this March 4, committing myself to Him forever... In passing, I take this opportunity to recommend myself to your prayers.

What role has your family played? Or other people?

-My family has played a key role. There, and in the school I studied, linked to Opus Dei, was where I received my education in the faith.

At home, the subject of vocation was always treated very naturally - in the most positive sense -.

My mother always said that, for her sake, she would be happy if all her children had a vocation. This meant that I always had a very positive view of giving myself to God.

I have, thanks to God, a very beautiful and large family, who have supported me and have become part of this new life to which God has called me.

They say that God speaks through people and events. What things do you think were a special sign from God for you?

-The various accidents I had in my travel adventures helped me: living death closely makes you question the direction you are taking in life. However, if you don't want to change, that's not enough. You could say that they were wake-up calls, but the decision has to come from within, there may be many events or people who come close to us and we will not redirect life.

These accidents were small events that accumulated, and God used them to give me a "yes" to His action, which opens the door to so many other graces that lead us to Him.

There was also a phrase, quoted by a philosophy teacher in college, that marked me very much: "that the person you are does not sadly greet the person you could have been". That phrase stuck with me and I think God made use of it because it reminded me of it when I was reordering my life to God.

What does it mean to be a missionary today in a country like Scotland, with strong Christian roots, but de-Christianized?

-Our community, made up of three sisters, arrived a year ago to found Scotland.

We work helping in four small towns, all very close together, each with its own church, in the diocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh. Here Catholics make up approximately 7.7% of the population of which only 10% practice the faith.

Even after a year and a half, it is impressive to see how many graces we have received!


I could concentrate on the "doing" and list the various activities we carry out: our work in the schools, the operation of our children's club, visits to the sick and to the inhabitants of the parish, catechesis, the organization of spiritual retreats, etc. All this is, without a doubt, very beautiful, but the essential thing is that "we are here", it is the first and unquestionable fruit. In these lands the importance of this "being here" is so evident.

There are not exorbitant numbers in our apostolates, here the Catholic is a minority, but each story is a miracle. This is not to say that in the rest of the world they are not, but the tangibility of these is what is most evident here.

God works uninterruptedly, we know that. Here in Scotland, that work, that hand of God is so clearly seen!... A world, an environment where nothing leads you to God and God is moving hearts against all that is humanly expected. Seeing what he is doing, one can only exclaim "it is a patent miracle".

Do you have any examples?

-I'll tell you a couple.

A woman was in a difficult situation in her family. She felt she had to go to church. She went, talked to the priest and started attending Mass, having no idea what it was. Today he is receiving catechesis in our community. Everything surprises him and at the same time he sees so much logic in the faith. She will be baptized along with her children. She is so happy that she thanks God for all the difficulties she is going through because they led her to God.

Here's another one. A man, faced with the suggestion of his non-practicing partner to baptize his children, decided to study what his children would hypothetically receive. He read the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church! Everything pointed him to the Truth and he began to come to Church. He wanted to receive catechesis, was baptized, made his first communion and received confirmation and marriage. His wife returned to the life of grace, his two children were baptized: a whole family in grace in less than a week.

What do these cases show us? God at work. Us just "being".

When we told our bishop some of these stories he commented, very happily: "if they were not here they would not have happened".

Being. That's what we've been doing. Being. God is doing. It is Him acting, we have received the fruit of His work, we give catechesis, we beautify the Church, we play with the children, we celebrate with the people, we share with all its fruits ..., but He is the one who works; we are simply "being" here!

What would you say to a person considering a vocation?

-I would invite her to be generous because God does not allow himself to be outdone in generosity! We know that God is the one who loves us the most in the world and therefore he is the one who wants our happiness the most. He gave everything for us on the cross!

If we are aware of this reality, how can we doubt that if He is calling us to follow Him more closely, it will not be the best thing for us? If He is the great counselor, knows everything and shows us the way.

Come on, let's go!

Vocation is a gift!

The authorBernard García Larraín

In collaboration with
Do you want independent, truthful and relevant news?

Dear reader, Omnes reports with rigor and depth on religious news. We do a research work that allows the reader to acquire criteria on the events and stories that happen in the Catholic sphere and the Church. We have star signatures and correspondents in Rome who help us to make the background information stand out from the media noise, with ideological distance and independence.

We need you to face the new challenges of a changing media landscape and a reality that demands reflection, we need your support.

In collaboration with
La Brújula Newsletter Leave us your email and receive every week the latest news curated with a catholic point of view.