María del Mar Cervera Barranco. The heart in the religion class

Married and mother of 6 children. Religion teacher with a vocation since childhood. Aware like few others of the importance of her task: to transmit the faith from her subject and with her example of life.

Arsenio Fernández de Mesa-November 6, 2022-Reading time: 3 minutes

Instructing students in school is a great vocation. But to form them to know God and have the desire to treat Him is an art. This is what María del Mar Cervera Barranco, a Catholic teacher at the school of the Irlandesas in Soto de La Moraleja. The center is run by the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a religious congregation founded by Mary Ward in 1609. These nuns currently have six schools in Spain. Maria del Mar, apart from instructing them in the subjects she teaches, fights with delicacy and affection so that the children acquire a spiritual sensitivity that helps them to meet Jesus Christ. With a load of small things she impresses in their souls the illusion of being friends of Jesus, from teaching them to genuflect, to give thanks after communion or to sing at Mass.

Maria del Mar's vocation as a teacher was not something sudden: she was already playing teacher with her friends, neighbors and siblings. "My favorite gadget was the blackboard. It was clear that there was a powerful seed that led me almost by incertia to teaching."he confesses to me. He studied teaching and pedagogy in a church school. "to educate and to be able to evangelize".something that seems to her to be inseparable in a Christian. She is also a Marian sodalist and this leads her to transmit her devotion to the Virgin Mary to her students with affection. For 27 years she has been enjoying her vocation to teaching at the Irish School, where she is a former student. 

It also provides religion classes: "I enjoy it very much, because I love to transmit my faith to the children. You pass on what you have and who you are. It is a great responsibility. All this work requires me to try to be consistent in my life.". She understands that it is a privilege to pray with the children in the mornings, prepare the sacraments, teach them the prayers and songs, attend the Masses celebrated at school and help them to understand and enjoy them, live the liturgical seasons in depth and explain the Gospel and the contents of the faith. Maria del Mar confesses to me that this is an impressive richness for her own spiritual life: "The one who receives the help is me, who puts myself before the Lord every day and reminds myself that I have to live this, that it is not just a theory that I give to the students. I believe that God will demand a lot from me because he has blessed me so much."María del Mar tells me. 

There are many anecdotes that edify him daily. He recalls how a few weeks ago they celebrated the school's first communions and one of his students approached him as soon as she saw him and told him that she was very happy and grateful for everything: "He said it to me with a depth that has not rubbed off on me.". It filled him with joy to see a child who had no faith experience at home and who was not baptized: "Throughout the course, infected by the closeness of his classmates with Jesus, by the illusion of others with the things of God, he asked to be baptized and to receive his first communion.". He also recalls how a few years ago he was preparing a little girl for her first communion. Her mother was sick with cancer and she could see that she was dying. She called Mar to ask her to take good care of her daughter, to prepare her very well, to do her motherly duties with her: "He died a few weeks later and on the day of his first communion I accompanied him with all the affection of one who fulfills a divine commission.". What fills Mar the most is that direct contact, one on one, with each child, loving each one as their mothers love them. She feels them as her children and is aware that she is going to give them the most important thing they will ever receive in their lives: "Not so much some theoretical knowledge, which they may forget, but Jesus, who remains forever.".

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