WITNESSES: Sr. María Fabiola Velásquez

on 16 Nov, 2020
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Paris (France), 16/11/2020, Sr. María Fabiola Velásquez Maya.- PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF THE CELEBRATION OF THE BEATIFICATION OF MARY POUSSEPIN ON NOVEMBER 20, 1994 IN ROME. Let me first of all point out that, having attended since childhood in my great educational establishment located near my family's home, run by the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation, I heard the sisters speak of Marie Poussepin and, like so many other students, I deeply admired this extraordinary woman whom the sisters regularly presented to us with simplicity and gratitude. So, as students in the sisters' house, we were often invited, even at that time, to pray for the canonization of Marie Poussepin.


Invited by Sister Ines Mercedes, Superior General at the time (she was at the end of her third mandate), we were in the middle of the work of the Council, when Father Inocencio Venchi, Op. Postulator General of the Cause of Canonization of Marie Poussepin, urgently asked to speak with Sister Ines Mercedes to transmit her the great news of the Decree of Beatification of our Foundress for November 20, 1994. 

You can imagine the joy we felt when we heard the announcement... Immediately we applauded with all our strength to the point that the sisters who were in the Generalate, especially those who worked in the secretariat on the first floor, went upstairs to find out what was happening? In a few minutes, all the other sisters in the house heard the happy news....

Sister Ines Mercedes expressed her desire to see the most urgent issues that were on the agenda of this working session, and then to see together how to organize ourselves for the preparation of the Beatification of Marie Poussepin, since there were only 9 months left until this celebration.

At that time, the members of the General Government were: Sr. Leonor Avellaneda Navas, Sr. Colette Papouin, Sr. María Nuria Gaza, Sr. María Magdalena Herrera, Sr. Carmen del Pilar, Sr. María Fabiola Velásquez, Sr. Catherine de la Presentación, General Secretary, Sr. Marie Bernard du Rosaire, General Treasurer and Sister Inés Mercedes, General Superior.

In the new organization desired by Sister Inés Mercedes, it was necessary to take into account several aspects:

Sister Inés Mercedes was almost at the end of her third mandate, which was to end at the end of July, beginning of August. This Chapter, which was to elect a new General Superior, was already in the process of preparation, at the level of the whole Congregation.

Therefore, during the year, two important trips should have been made by a good number of sisters from the countries where we were present. Reflecting in Council, it occurred to us to write to the President of the Dicastery of the Congregation of Religious to explain our situation and to ask if we could have a three-month extension of Sr. Inés Mercedes' mandate, which would allow us to have the chapter for the election of the new Superior General by October 20 and to continue with the new government team, the preparations for the Beatification.

The response from the Congregation of Religious was very quick and we were very happy to know that Sr. Inés Mercedes could continue with us without any problems. We then saw that it was better to change the location of the Chapter, which was planned in the Mother House in Tours, to Rome.

Since there was not enough space in the Generalate in Rome for the Chapter and for the people who would participate in the Beatification, we began to look for a more suitable place in or around Rome. After several searches we found a very good house run by Spanish sisters, not far from Rome where from the beginning to the end, we felt "at home".

As soon as it was possible, we established a very rich communication with the whole Congregation and especially with the Provincials and Vice-Provincials to let them know everything that we were living at the level of the General Government. The reactions to the circulars sent by Sr. Inés Mercedes established a new dialogue that allowed us to forge new links about the future that we should prepare together, and to address some worrying points that should be resolved together with the help of others.

Thus, we came up with the idea of a "Commission for the preparation of the Beatification", composed of sisters of different nationalities, familiar with the participation at a national, continental or intercontinental level in the preparation of various events, and who would be in charge of finding other collaborators for this task.

It seemed very important to us that the two sisters chosen to be responsible for this "Beatification preparation commission" should come to the Generalate for greater effectiveness. In this way they would be in contact with some important organizations, as well as with the Master of the Order who was then Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, since on November 20, at the same time as Marie Poussepin, Father Hyacinthe Marie Cormier, former Master of the Order and Sister Agnes de Jesus Galand de Langeac, a nun of the Dominican Order, would be beatified.

After having chosen together the date of October 22 to celebrate the General Chapter in Monte Cucco, in the outskirts of Rome, we asked Monsignor Pierre Claverie op, bishop of Oran (Algeria), to preach the retreat of 3 days that would precede the Chapter.

It was by putting my trust in the Lord that I accepted this election and began to write a new page of our history by following Marie Poussepin, with the members of the government: Sister María Magdalena Herrera, Sister Carmen Leonor Cortés, Sister Marina Mejía Toro, Soeur Solange Colliaut, Sister María de Los Ángeles Grau, Sister Cecilia Remolina Vargas, Sr. Catherine de la Pésentation, General Secretary and Soeur Marie Bernard du Rosaire, General Treasure.


It is full of a very deep emotion, which today, I am ready to share with you an unforgettable page of my personal history, which I consider an "exceptional privilege" in my life: to personally participate in the celebration of the Beatification of Marie Poussepin, as Superior General of the Congregation, founded 324 years ago.

As I said at the beginning of this testimony, as a student of the Dominican Sisters of the Presentation in Medellín, from a very young age I began to know our foundress and to pray for her canonization. Never in my life could I have imagined that I would be present at the magnificent ceremony that has profoundly marked me for the rest of my life. Thank you, Lord, for your merciful love for me!

On November 20, 1994, the solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe, a large assembly filled St. Peter's Basilica. Many religious of the Orders and Congregations to which the new Blessed belonged, as well as friends and relatives from different countries of the world, came to pay homage to the five beatified persons.

As you can imagine, I was with Sister Inés Mercedes, in a very special place, in front of the central altar where Pope John Paul II was presiding over the celebration.

At the beginning of the celebration, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, Vicar of the Pope for the Diocese of Rome, postulated the Beatification, also in the name of the Archbishop of Tours and the Bishops of the other Dioceses from which the other "Blessed" came, who were accompanied by the Postulators of the respective Causes.

The concelebrants were about thirty, among them the Secretary of the Colombian Episcopal Conference, Monsignor Jorge Enrique Jiménez Carvajal, Bishop of Zipaquirá, Brother Timothy Radcliffe, Master General of the Dominicans, Brother General of the Friars Minor, the Rector of the University of St. Thomas in Rome (the Angelicum) and the Czech Dominican Father, Jiri Vesely, who had benefited from the miraculous intervention of Father Cormier.

Pope John Paul II listened to a brief biography of the 5 recently beatified, and then read the formula for the Beatification. At that moment, the tapestries hanging on the balcony of the Basilica were discovered, representing the faces of the new blessed.

The first reading was given in Italian by Antonio Granzotto, nephew of Blessed Claudio, and the second in Spanish by Sister Inés Serrano of our Congregation. The Gospel was proclaimed in French by the Dominican Jean-Nicolas Porret. The intercessions were made in Portuguese, English, Czech, Spanish and French. The Pope gave the homily in Italian and French and referring to Marie Poussepin he said "To the work of the believing intelligence must be added the testimony of love in action, of charity that will never pass away and that will remain in the 'eternal kingdom' announced by the prophet Daniel (Dn 7:14). Marie Poussepin was passionate about this active charity from her childhood and was eager to put herself at the service of the most needy in the Dominican Third Order in Dourdan, her hometown. She knew, in fact, how to recognize the living presence of the Lord of the universe in the person of the little ones. To serve the poor is already to live the beatitude of the Kingdom. Marie Poussepin wanted to make her whole life a loving offering, as shown in the text of the Regulations she gave to the Dominican Sisters of Charity of the Presentation of the Virgin, founded by her in Sainville. Together with her companions, apostolic religious, she decided to work "for the good of the parish, to instruct the youth and to serve the poor and sick”. The fire of love that Christ lit on earth would be doomed to go out if families did not care to keep it alive. In this year especially dedicated to them, Marie Poussepin delivers a message of joy and hope: born into a family that carried her and supported her, she is now proposed for our veneration as one of our sisters in humanity, a humble and generous daughter of God, capable of understanding the problems that a family encounters and also of showing in what direction to look for the solution: in the love that flows from the Heart of Christ, King of the universe".


November 26th, Dourdan 15 h
- Organized trips...
- Lecture: Mr. Billard
- Eucharist presided by Monsignor Herbulot, Bishop of Évry Corbeil-Essonnes. Dourdan Parish Church

November 27, Tours 11h:30
- Eucharist presided by Monsignor Jean Honoré. Archbishop of Tours. Cathedral of Tours
- Homage to Marie Poussepin at the Vinci International Center in Tours

November 28th Tours 11h:30
- Eucharist presided over by Fr. Lintanf op. Provincial of Lyon Chapel of the Grande Bretèche
- Open Day 15h

November 29th Sainville
- Pilgrimage
- Celebration of the Word in the parish church 6pm
- Eucharist presided by Monsignor Perrier, Bishop of Chartres 19h

November 30th Tours 11h:30
- Eucharist presided by Father Preteseille. Chapelle de la Bretèche
- Colloquium "Marie Poussepin and her time". Hall of the Municipality of Tours 14h30      

It is impossible to conclude this sharing since, like each one of us, I renew very sincerely and freely my commitment in the dynamics of an unreserved love for the paths of life, like the "Daughter of Marie Poussepin" that I have been for 57 years, since the day I made my first profession at the Mother House, "to live and die in the exercise of charity".

With great insistence, during this "Year of Thanksgiving" for the Beatification of Marie Poussepin, I asked the Lord that we might reaffirm the ardor of charity in our Congregation today, that we might know how to drink again at the source of the charism and that we might be deeply revitalized in the spirit of our origins.