incomparable riches that could be
replaced by nothing on this earth

A way that God, in His infinite mercy, brought about sustained and watched over, is my
grateful reading fifty years later, of the Lord’s calling to become an Allied of Santa
Maria. I come from a Catholic family. I had a very happy childhood. I have beautiful
memories of my day to day life within my God-given family. However, at the age of eleven,
when my father left for Angola (he was a police officer going to serve in that Portuguese
colony) I suffered greatly. Feeling the world’s wickedness, which made me suffer so, and
being conscious of the love Jesus had for me, I decided that I would surrender my entire
life to the Lord, that I would belong to Him alone. However, at that age there was nothing
I could do to make my wish come true, so I opted for intense prayer through which I
beseeched this grace.

I was aware that only much later would I get my wish, but that never discouraged me,
even though I knew nothing of consecrated life. At school I studied hard, but never
neglected prayer time. I was already living in Porto when I had the chance to participate
in the reception of the habit of a Carmelite nun. I was so touched by the event that as
soon as I got home I said: “that’s where I want to go when I grow up” to which my mother
responded: “No, not there, otherwise we’ll never see you again. If it must be, then rather
to ones that walk about like us.”

I continued to pray, assured by a “certainty” that my future belonged to God and He would
sort everything out, when and how He wished. On my last year of high school I went to a
retreat where Maria Áurea was present to help the young girls. At the end of that retreat
we were given the address of the “Farol”, as a place where we could meet again, to share
our memories, our difficulties… it was a support group, much like a family. Later, when I
finished school, I went to Teacher’s College. At this time, when I started wanting to fulfil
what I had kept in my heart all along, Maria Áurea and Maria Clara came into my life.

Their zeal for God, the fire that I understood to burn in their hearts, the love for Our Lady,
our encounter with Her, whom I learnt to call Mother, whose embrace I felt in that house,
the “Farol”, the contagious joy, the way they prayed, the happiness I experienced, the peace
I felt, were the answer to all the longings I had had within me for so long. I didn’t
question whether they were a religious order or not. I identified with their way of life, they
inspired me with confidence and admiration. God answered me so clearly and obviously that I
had no doubt that that was the way to go. Meanwhile I had to wait for the legal age because my
parents were against my decision. Now, fifty years later, I thank the Lord and Our Mother
the unique privilege they granted me, by choosing me to follow the birth and growth of this
“little flock” of ours.

The meditation on the word of the Gospel, which was for us from the beginning nourishment
for our lives, the Rosary,  through which we always addressed Our Lady, Her Message
which was subject of great in depth study from the start, the Heart of Mary known and loved,
as “God wills”, in so many places throughout the world, filled these years with incomparable
riches that could be replaced by nothing on this earth. To see the Aliança de Santa Maria grow in so many
ways is reason for unceasing thanksgiving, which I take to the Holy Trinity in prayer. And I
continue to give thanks for the unique privilege of having also called me to live the very first
steps of the Aliança, conscious that the Lord “uttered my name before I was conceived” and
has known me “since my mother’s womb”.  I have been blessed to have witnessed, slowly,  
one by one as the Sister’s joined,  the growth in each Sister of this part of “the Body of Christ” 
which we are. Each and every Sister has been a continued confirmation of our steps in the Faith,
in this way that continuously calls us to sanctity. I can say, with much joy that I have seen
“heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending…” and still bearing in mind
St John’s writings, to all those who are willing to search and find the will of God for their lives,
I dare say to them in Our Lady’s words in Cana: “do everything He tells you”.

This is but one way that God mercifully HELD IN HIS HANDS and IN HIS HEART. I would
take exactly the same way, if I were to start again.