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Sodalitium Christianae Vitae - English / News  / Family and apostolate: The testimony of Oscar and Adrika from Cuenca, Ecuador

Family and apostolate: The testimony of Oscar and Adrika from Cuenca, Ecuador

Seeking to have a solid family and dedicate yourself to the apostolate can seem like a challenging balance in a world where time is a very precious commodity. Amid the daily demands of raising five children, Oscar and Adrika, Peruvians living in Cuenca, Ecuador, share their inspiring journey of how family is not only a school of love, but also fertile ground for apostolate.

On a family trip to the Colca Valley, Arequipa-Peru.

On a family trip to the Colca Valley, Arequipa-Peru.

We decided to look for Oscar and Adrika after the first International Meeting “The joy of being family”. In the news that we published then, Oscar shared that this event was born “from listening to the inner voices of so many families who long to live the horizon of holiness expressed in the family apostolate in our home, on a daily basis.”

Thus, we begin this space with the experience of the International Meeting of Families.

“We were in charge of organizing and directing the Meeting that took place in Cuenca – Ecuador,” says the couple. “It was months of preparation that, together with our work team, we designed the path of reflection for the Meeting, with a look at the vocation to holiness to which we are called to live as families, accentuating the apostolic horizon as an expression and fruit of the desire to live this vocation.”

Oscar commented that during the International Meeting of the Laity held in the city of Cali – Colombia, in which he participated, he had the opportunity to give a talk in the family panel entitled: “The apostolate with a family face”, and then he spoke with some married and consecrated people who participated in this event organized by the Christian Life Movement (MVC) and the Sodalitium.

How did the idea of this event that would bring together many families come about then? Oscar tells us.

“Coincidentally, I had been reflecting, for months, on the vocation to the apostolate of marriages and families and their commitment within our spiritual family . I had been listening to many brothers from different locations, their stories, their experiences, their needs and their desires. ; and in their voices I heard myself. And that is why I went out to meet Carlos Muñoz, General Assistant of the Sodalitium Apostolate, and Alexandre Borges, General Coordinator of the MVC and proposed the idea of organizing the first International Family Meeting.

“The motto: The Joy of Being Family is a familiar phrase that here in Cuenca we seek to make alive in our daily pilgrimage. True joy springs from the encounter with the Lord Jesus, every person who has encountered Him discovers within themselves an immense joy that leads them to commit to Him, welcoming His Love and allowing their heart to be transformed.

“When the family grows, the family becomes stronger”

Entering a second moment of this story, we ask them to introduce themselves, as if they had to write a brief biography for a social network, and this is what they wrote: “We are a very united family, we accompany each other at all times, expressing with gestures and words the love we have for each other.

Adrika Canales and Oscar Alvarez.

Adrika and Oscar in Arequipa-Peru

For 18 years the Álvarez Canales family has lived in Santa Ana de los Cuatro Ríos in Cuenca, an Ecuadorian city where three of their children were born; and also saw the birth, as they describe it: “the forging of a family that seeks to live the face of God’s love in everyday life, in the company of our mother Saint Mary.”

Having been married for 23 years, they remember the moment when this journey began, on Friday, November 17th, 2000, the day they celebrated their marriage, which is also the day of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, a married saint.

In more than two decades of journey, together with their 5 children: Esteban, 22 years old, Andrea María, 19, María Belén, 18, Alejandro, 16, and Ana María, 11 years old, the couple has faced challenges that have left many lessons.

Oscar Álvarez y Adrika Canales, adherentes al Sodalicio de Vida Cristiana, con su familia.

At María Belen’s graduation party.

About this they tell us: “We have faced them knowing our gifts, in this way we have remained in them, deploying them according to the circumstances we are experiencing. There is a biblical quote that has accompanied us and has educated us as a family and continues to do so. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you in addition (Mt 6:33).”

“When the family grows, its needs also grow with it. And that is when the world tries to make you believe that your safety and that of your family must be placed in that world, that your significance is destined for that world and that only then will you be happy.”

“And it is in that moment of temptation, when you stop looking at Jesus and look at yourself, like Peter when he sinks in the waters because he is carried away by his fears, he stops looking at Jesus, he looks at his fears and insecurities and succumbs to the strong winds of that moment.”

“For us, when the family grows, the family becomes stronger; It is strengthened in the face of the strong winds of the world, confidence is strengthened and hopes are reflected in the daily love of the Good God who always comes out to meet you and your loved ones, giving you what you really need to be happy.”

The Eucharist: Peace and strength

Oscar and Adrika tell us how they have been cultivating their spiritual life throughout the years they have been life partners.

“Our marriage and our family are marked by the Eucharist. There is our peace and strength, the true love that surpasses us, our comfort in our falls and company in our struggles, our light in the midst of our walk.”

“In addition to sacramental life, we have tried to have spaces for personal prayer, as a couple and as a family. Contemplative prayer, praying lauds and the rosary have been practices that have accompanied us during this time.”

Your adherence to the Sodalitium of Christian Life

Oscar, Adrika, sus cinco hijos y el P. Luis Troya con el P. Christian Vinces.

Together with Father Christian and Father Luis at the Mary, Mother Guardian of the Faith Sanctuary, Cuenca

We joined the Sodalitium on October 12th, 2001, the day of the Virgin of Pilar. That day we consecrate ourselves apostolically as a married couple to Saint Mary for all the days of our lives, committing ourselves to supporting her in her evangelizing mission, being linked to the style and spirituality of the Sodalitium and available to her superiors.

The adherents of the Sodalitium are couples that respond to God’s call, linking themselves to the style and spirituality of the community. Through mutual discernment and a period of formation, they prepare to live out their baptismal commitments within their families. Although they are not part of community life or religious discipline, they express their appreciation for Sodalite spirituality and collaborate in the apostolic mission according to their abilities.

Precisely they tell us how they arrived at that October 12th. “As a married couple we discovered ourselves sodalites through our own personal experience of conversion, through our journey in those first years of marriage in which our friendship with the consecrated brothers made us glimpse a common horizon in the living of the charism, in the call to live a concrete apostolic mission in communion with them.”

In the Sodalitium we find that family loved by God in which we see our gifts unfold, we can accompany and be accompanied, there we discover a particular call in the universal vocation to holiness being linked to its style and spirituality.”

When delving into how Sodalit spirituality has positively influenced the day-to-day life of their family, they highlight several aspects. As “the integral view of faith acting as a light that illuminates their minds, moves their hearts and projects them to action.” On the other hand, “it has helped them recognize the face of Trinitarian Love as the maximum expression of family love.”

“Filial love for Saint Mary presents to them a path that shapes their relationship with Jesus,”allowing the Mother to maternally guide them towards the encounter with her Son. They also highlighted community life and fraternal sharing as an essential space. And along with this, “Christian joy, which springs from the shared experience of a charism.”

Finally, they share: “we embrace reconciliation as a response to the brokenness of the world and as a vital practice in our family life, to better live our friendship with Jesus.”

Family Missions Project

Andrea, hija de Oscar y Adrika enseñando a una niña a tejer en un viaje de misiones a Huaraz (Perú).

Andrea, on family missions, teaching a girl to knit with her hands.

One of the projects that was presented at the International Meeting of Families in Cuenca was: Family Missions, about which our brother Enrique Elías made a presentation.

Oscar and Adrika are involved behind the curtain of this nascent work, here they tell us.

“It arises from the initiative of both Enrique Elías and us, who by sharing our missionary stories, we began to glimpse that the creation of a family missionary project could respond to the desire to live the apostolic horizon in many families in the different localities where it is located. present our spiritual family.”

“Francesco Anzuini, from the Sodalitium Apostolate Department, joined us in this work, who collaborated with us, accompanying us in the reflection and in all the preparation.”

Oscar y Adrika con sus cinco hijos.

Family missions in Cochapampa – Peru.

“This is how Enrique came from Rome to our house in Cuenca on two occasions to be able to design, in a spirit of prayer and in a family atmosphere, this project that tries to generate a culture of mission in families, providing training and accompaniment, seeking to be a testimony of the love of God, favoring meeting spaces where a program to improve the quality of life among the most needy is carried out.”

The apostolate, a pedagogy for the family

Oscar and Adrika’s experience highlights the possibility of living the apostolate as a pedagogy for the family, challenging the perception that dedicating oneself to the service of others can be complicated in the midst of the daily responsibilities that a family has.

Currently, in addition to being involved in family missions, the Alvarez Canales are committed to preparing for their first communion at the educational institution where their children have studied. Oscar plays a collaborative role with the “Fe y Salud” foundation, while Adrika shares her art as an apostolic space through exhibitions and publications. In addition, they are part of a group of couples that meets monthly to reflect on issues related to marriage and family.

“We also try to be available to collaborate in Cuenca with parishes, schools, other movements and media that eventually ask for our apostolic collaboration,” they tell us.

Group of couples from Cuenca – Ecuador.

Group of couples from Cuenca – Ecuador.

In the apostolic journey, our children have always accompanied us, with their presence as children, even with their testimony and participation when they were young, as they did at the International Meeting of Families where our 5 children gave the conference on Sunday.”

“The experience of the apostolate has been a pedagogy for us and for our children. As Ana María, our last 11-year-old daughter, said in her brief words at the Meeting: The Family has been, and is, the best school of love for God and others, my best school of Christian life.

To close this space, the couple wanted to give us a reflection on the most significant lesson they have drawn from their experience in the apostolate, sharing a story that expresses what they have learned in this beautiful horizon of the apostolate that they have had to live in Cuenca.

“From our home in Cuenca we see day after day the green mountains whose peaks show us the greatness that must be achieved. We have climbed many of these mountains as a family; and we have experienced that the Christian life is like that path that must be taken to the top of the mountain.”

“There will be flat trails, but also steep ones, sunny, cold or rainy climates. However, we must reach the top despite those difficulties. We will be thirsty and hungry, but our food will be different, our drink and food will be that which gives us the inner strength to continue walking in search of our ideals.”

“And we will often be tired, we will be tempted to look back, but if we look at the top of the mountain, we will know that there is our goal. And we will give that last effort with the generosity of our hearts that will try to beat in unison with the one who accompanies us and who gives us this wonderful life.”

“And so we will reach the top, joy floods our hearts. Now, the summit shows us where we should go, where our gaze should be placed, and that is that our gaze must be placed on the immensity of the sky, that sky that becomes present in our world because that which is eternal like the Love from which we were created comes to life in our midst.”