"The life of Carmen Hernandez represents the history of the Church in the 20th century."

Carmen Hernandez is closer to the altars. On December 4, the Francisco de Vitoria University will host the solemn opening session of the diocesan phase of the cause for the beatification and canonization of the Servant of God. We interviewed, on this occasion, Aquilino Cayuela, author of the biography Carmen Hernandez (BAC, 2021)

Maria José Atienza-December 4, 2022-Reading time: 4 minutes

On July 19, 2016, he passed away in Madrid. Carmen Hernandez. Co-founder of the Neocatechumenal Way, irreplaceable collaborator of Kiko Argüello, this woman, a native of Ólvega (Soria) is getting closer and closer to being the first saint linked to the Neocatechumenal Way.

That apostolic work that began in the shantytowns of the outskirts of Madrid is today a reality, a path through which hundreds of thousands of people meet God and live their faith.

Aquilino Cayuela

Aquilino Cayuela is the author of the biography Carmen Hernandezpublished by the Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos in 2021.

This professor of Moral and Political Philosophy at the Universitat Abat Oliba CEU highlights "the constancy and intensity of her love for Jesus Christ, at all times, in the darkness and in the joys" in the life of the co-initiator of the Neocatechumenal Way.

Writing a biography of a person whom many consider a saint is always delicate, especially when those who knew her closely will be her readers. What has it meant for you to write Carmen's biography?

For me it was, on the one hand, an honor and, on the other, a great responsibility. I was the initiator, together with Kiko Arguello, of the one of the most important ecclesial realities in the world. after the Council. Indeed, it was a delicate work that I have tried to develop with the utmost rigor.

I have tried to do it with objectivity and balance. Carmen, in a way, was the great unknown, she was shy and reserved and had a very rich experience of Jesus Christ and the Church, before meeting Kiko, that almost nobody knew well. 

How would you define Carmen Hernández?

-She was a woman of great personality and initiative. She has always been characterized by an intense love for Christ and the Church, since her childhood. She was also a restless and nonconformist woman, with a strong personality, a strong missionary vocation and reformism. Her own life and her search is exemplary, in the sense that it represents the history of the Church in the twentieth century, its renewal and the whole environment of Vatican II.

Carmen Hernández's life was not simple. What points of her life are the keys to the catechist and missionary woman we have come to know?

Precisely the turning points in her life: when, as a very young woman, she experienced difficulties in following her missionary vocation and encountered opposition from her father. Later, when the Missionaries of Jesus Christ did not allow her to continue. And then the intensity of her encounter with Jesus on her first trip to the Holy Land.

Their providential meeting with Kiko and their decision to continue with him in a catechumenate experience, which they themselves began to take first to Spain and, a little later, to Italy and other countries.

The success of her own Way as a Christian Initiation is a serious responsibility for her and she experiences moments of anxiety.

Carmen has been for many the woman in the "shadow", however, the reality and scope of the Neocatechumenal Way cannot be understood without her. What does Carmen contribute to the charism initiated by Kiko Argüello?

-Actually, there was an important complementarity between them. She brings the liturgy, the renewal of Vatican II, biblical understanding in the link with the Hebrew translation, prayer and the role of women in the Church today.

Now that Carmen's cause of beatification and canonization is a reality, in what way is Carmen an example for the faithful today?

-I believe that there are different aspects that each one can contemplate in his biography, but what stands out is the constancy and intensity of his love for Jesus Christ, at all times, in the darkness and in the joys.

carmen hernandez

Secondly, her love for the Church and the Pope, her spirit of renewal and her sincere missionary vocation, which makes her a very daring woman. Her frankness also stands out. She is persevering in prayer and has a strong bond with Scripture. She is a very authentic person in her life and her work, she wanted wholeheartedly to renew the Church of this time so that men and women could encounter the love of God in Jesus Christ.

Finally, its proposal of femininity is a very interesting model.

Beatification and canonization

On December 4, the Francisco de Vitoria University will host the solemn opening session of the diocesan phase of the cause for the beatification and canonization of the Servant of God Carmen Hernandez.

The session, presided over by the Archbishop of Madrid, Cardinal Carlos Osoro, will be attended by the international team of the Neocatechumenal Way, Kiko Argüello, Mario Pezzi and Ascensión Romero, and the postulator, Carlos Metola. In addition, there will be the swearing in of the tribunal delegated for this cause, formed by the episcopal delegate for the Causes of the Saints of Madrid, Alberto Fernández; the promoter of justice Martín Rodajo, and the assistant notaries Ana Gabriela Martínez, R. C. and Mercedes Alvaredo.

As the postulator of this cause explained, Carlos Metola to OmnesCarmen Hernández's reputation for holiness began at the moment of her death: "In many parts of the world there is a conviction that Carmen lived her life in holiness: during her life, just before her death and after her death". Documentation of all this has been collected. Also from the visits to Carmen's tomb, which has already been visited by more than 35,000 people, most of them from the Neocatechumenal Way, but also many other people who have approached her after learning about Carmen and her life".

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