When we run into Sister Pilar Neira it is almost impossible not to also meet and find other young men and women. She shares with them her calling to do more for society by empowering their faith, autonomy and responsibility. Read her story here:
A Young Woman Among Young People
By: Sister Pilar Neira, CCVI
I was 13 years old when I made my First Communion. It was on February 25, 1984; it was a very special day for me because my younger sister was also born on that day. Although I did not know it at that time, this event marked my life. Next Sunday, as every other teenager, I went to Mass very early, because I wanted to receive Jesus. When I arrived at the chapel nobody was there. I entered and sat on the first bench. Then I heard a voice saying: “Good morning, young lady”; I answered: “Good morning, Father”, and he told me: “Hasn’t anybody taught you that when you come into the Temple you have to greet the owner of the house, who is Jesus in the Eucharist”.
At that moment I discovered that I did not understand the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, and the priest, very patiently, explained this to me. When the Mass was over, he took me in front of the tabernacle, opened it and showed me the place where the Hosts for Holy Communion were kept. I felt a great emotion.
When I left the Chapel, I made a commitment with the Lord: I decided to become a catechist and teach children that Jesus is present and he has remained with us in the Eucharist.
That is how I met the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word at the “Saint Francis of Assisi” Parish, in Chimbote. At that time, I was a catechist and I belonged to a Youth Movement where Sister Teresa Conroy, CCVI was our adviser. Tere’s closeness, attention and joy always questioned me and she invited me to a vocational event where I was confronted with this question: Did I want to be a missioner?
When Sister Teresa invited me to be a missioner, I had a boyfriend, I was studying Administration at the University, and I was working to help my family after my father’s sudden death. It was impossible for me to think about becoming a member of a religious congregation because of the context in which I lived. But the invitation resounded very deeply in my being. I understood that the first condition to follow Jesus was to leave my boyfriend and my family. I felt that I could not do that, I kept thinking that they needed me. After three years of prayer and discernment, I answered to the Lord and I said: “YES”.
I had two experiences that helped me to confirm my vocation. The first experience was with a child when I was visiting the schools to talk about the Missions Month in my parish. We used to pray for the missions and collect money for them. When I finished with my motivation speech, a child stood up and said: “I cannot give money because I am very poor; I wait for my mother every night to see if I can eat; sometimes my companions and my teacher give me food. That’s why I can’t help.”
Then I said: “But you can pray for the missions” and he answered: “I don’t know how to pray… but you are going to teach me.” When I heard him, my heart broke and when I left the classroom my companions, members of the group, told me: “Come on, Pilar, you are not going to feel discouraged now; we only have three more classrooms to go and we will finish.”
The other experience was in Cambio Puente when I helped the Sisters with catechism classes for children and young people. I was impressed with the simple life of the Sisters and with the service they gave the poor. They changed the image that I had of religious women. Their welcoming attitude and their accompaniment helped me to discover that God was calling me and that I was resisting and could not hear his invitation.
This was the beginning of my contact with our Congregation and of the path that led me to consecrate my life to the Incarnate Word 23 years ago:
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant…” Luke 1: 46-48.