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Pedro Poveda, a man who kept hope alive

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LOS NEGRALES, Madrid, Spain.
The feast of St. Pedro Poveda, celebrated last July 28th at Santa Maria de Los Negrales, was, as every year, a happy gathering to give thanks for the life of "a man who kept hope alive," in the words of Cardinal Carlos Osoro, Archbishop of Madrid.

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"A loving day for all of us on this feast of Saint Pedro Poveda," was the initial greeting of Cardinal Carlos Osoro, who presided over the Eucharistic celebration at Santa Maria de Los Negrales, in the presence of members of the Teresian Association, collaborators, and friends. Bishop Jorge Casaretto, Bishop Emeritus of San Isidro (Argentina); Fr. José Luis Segovia, Vicar of Social Pastoral of the Archdiocese of Madrid; Father Ángel, President of Messengers of Peace, concelebrated with ten other priests.

Pilar Gascon, director of Santa Maria Center in Los Negrales, recalled that this year marks the centenary of the diocesan and civil approval of the Teresian Association in the diocese and city of Jaén, Spain. She read the words Pedro Poveda pronounced at that moment: "the Work is from now on a Work of the Church," thus referring to the ecclesial identity of the Association from its origin. ​​This phrase of Pedro Poveda was repeated in several languages.

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Cardinal Carlos Osoro developed three points in his homily:

  1. Pedro Poveda is overcome by Jesus Christ in Guadix.
  2. Pedro Poveda lives a unique experience in Covadonga.
  3. Pedro Poveda lives a call to the mission of going out to seek the people of his time, through the mediation of the Teresian Association, in Jaen and Madrid, and giving up his life for Jesus Christ.

We offer a summary of the words of Cardinal Carlos Osoro (they are complete in the attached video).

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Pedro Poveda is overcome by Jesus Christ in Guadix

When we place our life before St. Pedro Poveda we discover a man who always kept hope alive, in all the circumstances of his life. At the very beginning of his ministry in Guadix, when envy made life difficult, he kept hope alive. The same is true in moments of maximum difficulty, in a place that today seems close to us, but in Pedro Poveda's time it was not easy to arrive at, in Covadonga ... And so on throughout his life, to the point of giving it because he had hope. Therefore, on this feast we should recite with the psalmist ... Lord, I place all my trust in you...

You have heard the text from the prophet Jeremiah: I chose you, I appointed you, I sent you, and I put my words in your mouth. When you read the letters or thoughts of Pedro Poveda, you see that they come out of a great and strong relationship with Jesus. In his writings one perceives a peace, a serenity, a security, a confidence, an ability to say the same thing in different ways: that Christ must be our support. He says it because has was overcome by the Lord. (...) There are no glimpses of of fear in Pedro Poveda. 

In Guadix he saw the reality of the Caves, the poverty of their culture, the poverty of ignorance; he saw indifference. He went out looking for those outside the village.  He went to the Caves, which were marginalized, because he knew that that was what God wanted of him. That cannot be done unless one is aware that one is overcome by Jesus Christ.

Pedro Poveda lives a unique experiencia in Covadonga

In Covadonga, before Our Lady, he experiences that this world must be given a different flavor, that this earth must not be provided breaches but encounters, and that the human being who does not discover that s/he is a child of God and brother/sister to all, will permanently live with breaches and confrontations. The culture of coming together, of which Pope Francis speaks so much, cannot be a reality.

Before Our Lady of Covadonga, he feels that it is necessary to provide a different flavor. With Our Lady he sees the importance of the laity and of women. The Lord makes him feel the urgency of the mission, of coming out, of being salt and light in the world. This can be done only by those who have had such a great encounter with the Lord that what they do in daily life transforms the culture and the environment in which they are.

The Teresian Association was born in the Cave of Covadonga, and it was born knowing and perceiving that charity - love - had to be its trademark. Love was the trademark of the early Christians. He also saw that to change this world and give it flavor, we must be strong friends of God or we will not give the taste of God and we will not change anything at all. 

Also, in Covadonga Pedro Poveda would come to know that the Teresian Association is a missionary Work through the presence of its members in all corners of culture and education, where the men and women of their time are.

Pedro Poveda lives a call to the mission, Madrid

Pedro Poveda today calls us to the mission. In Madrid, he lost his life for the mission, for announcing Jesus Christ, for making clear that what he said, did, and lived would transform this world. He did not create hatred or confrontation, he created unity.

Pedro Poveda encourages us to go out to defend the work of God that is the human being, image of God. The human being has the fabric of God and sometimes it breaks because it damages the dignity of people in many ways. The call of Pedro Poveda is to do it in the style of the first Christians and through the eloquence of our actions.

T.A. 1917 - 2017: centenary of the Diocesan and civil approval

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After the celebration of the Eucharist, Mª Dolores Martín, Vice-President of the Teresian Association, addressed the audience. Her words were followed by a video that gave an account of the development of the international presence of the Teresian Association in these hundred years.

After greeting the audience in the name of the President, Maite Uribe, and the Governing Council, she said:

“Anniversaries are celebrations of life shared by a group. Today we celebrate two anniversaries:

  • 81 years of the martyrdom of Saint Pedro Poveda. Last night was celebrated in the chapel of Las Torres the Eucharistic vigil on the altar table from Alameda (Madrid), where Poveda celebrated his last Eucharist. And just a few minutes ago we also celebrated the Eucharist today, the memorial of the Lord.
  • and one hundred years of the diocesan approval and civil recognition of the Teresian Association, in Jaén, in 1917.

Anniversaries always evoke a history: a yesterday, from which we come, a vital trajectory, populated with facts, spaces and, above all, names and faces, that come to us and leave a legacy. Yesterday, known, welcomed, and for which we give thanks gives us roots, bonds and belonging. Without memory, we would not know who we are or where we come from.

Anniversaries also invite us to celebrate what we have become. Today, a dynamic network of people, identities, relationships, events, tasks, endeavors, dreams ... In our today we play our role in history, big or small (that is irrelevant), we play our responsibility towards Life, our own and that of others, the life of humanity to which we all belong. Without present, we would not have the opportunity to be, to be with others.

And as we celebrate anniversaries we are invited to look to the future, a tomorrow that is a shared human project, active and committed hope, breadth of vision beyond our small borders, what we consider gains or losses, dreams achieved or unfulfilled. Without a future and without a promise, where would we go?

Yesterday: evocation

We evoke the initial steps of the Association, the process of giving an Associational body - church and citizen - to a new evangelizing and cultural project. As far back as 1917, almost all the elements of the Work's identity were identified: ecclesial identity, evangelizing mission, lay personhood, specific spirit and physiognomy, specific educational and cultural mediations, unity and diversity, organizational complexity, a permanent need of formation ... Was there audacity? Also, were there difficulties? Not few; Were there scant means? Without a doubt. And of course, there was a lot of effort, a lot of work, a lot of faith and an extraordinary vocation.

Today: invitation

The last hundred years of humanity have been the scene of events that have changed the world and our perception of it. What is this centennial of the Association inviting us to today, since we live in a context so different from that lived by those pioneers of 1917?

We are invited to take up, once again with determination and commitment, with vocation and love, the proposal of Poveda and the present of the Association in the social and cultural framework of the XXI century. It is what we try to do daily, in tune with the world and the Church, and what we are humbly doing, personally, as a community and as an Association, as we prepare for the next Assembly of all Associations a.e. 2018 and we seek, as our objective says: Identify the evangelization challenges that the dialogue with different people and sociocultural groups presents to the Association, prioritizing two topics: families and youth in situations of periphery. Discern and decide where and how to direct our energies.

Tomorrow: challenge

Forward, towards the future, we are sustained by the challenge of hope. The future ... is not in our hands. It is of God, of the order of promise, of the God of promises, who is faithful and fulfills them. The kingdom of God, God with its saving mercy finds ways to always arrive, because the seed is abundant and the Sower knows how to wait, as the gospel of a few days ago reminded us.

What is in our hands, what depends on us and is our responsibility -with courage and clarity of vision- is to open paths to that future, so that whatever comes may "find us doing right that which we have been entrusted"1. Some authors2 say that the necessary change to open paths to this future is to widen our thinking from our head to our heart and move from ego-systems, which only care about the well-being of oneself, to ecosystems that put the welfare of all at the center. The challenge of hope translates into consistent and concrete solidarity, and is nourished by generosity, strength and love. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of strength and love,3 said Poveda in 1912, and we repeat that today, one hundred and five years later. This is the spirit of our Work and, thanks to him, we can continue to celebrate."

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1 PUIGROVIRA: Valores para una emergencia educativa, Mesa Redonda ¿Qué educación en esta sociedad?. Cátedra Pedro Poveda de la Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca, Madrid 3 abril 2014, Fundación Pablo VI.

2 C. OTTO SCHARMER Y KATRIN KÄUFER, Liderar desde el futuro emergente. De los egosistemas a los ecosistemas económicos, Barcelona 2015.

3 PEDRO POVEDA, Creí por esto hablé [66] 1912.

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