M. Ma Teresa Rivera Carrillo
M. Ma. Teresa Rivera Carrillo, MPS Maria Teresa Rivera Carrillo was born on October 22, 1888 in a very Christian family in the small village of Boca Avino now known as Ignacio Zaragoza in Durango, Mexico. She was a humble, strong, and courageous woman, with inner authority and indomitable, invincible perseverance. She was also confident, tenacious, self-assured and a with great love for the Holy Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin.
At the age of 18, she felt God's call to the contemplative life in Carmel, but was unable to enter the monastery due to religious persecution during the revolution. In the year 1918, Maria Teresa, along with Doña Vicenta, her mother, immigrated to the town of Matamoros, Coahuila.
As soon as they arrived there, Teresa was dismayed and greatly disappointed to see the spiritual abandonment of the people and the neglect of the temple. With the advice of Fr. Cervantes, Ma. Teresa invited the Bishop for a visit to Matamoros. The bishop came in April of the same year. In a mission organized by the Redemptorists fathers, Maria Teresa who participated, had her first interaction with them. Due to problems arising in Matamoros, Maria Teresa and her family had to move to the Hacienda Corona, Coahuila. Again, she saw the same spiritual abandonment in the farm. The situation encouraged her to promote the construction of a chapel. This was followed by a 10-day mission preached by her spiritual director, Fr. Leoncio Garcia, a Carmelite, who recommended to her a few spiritual exercises as a preparation for her entrance to Carmel. He proposed for her to do a Triduum with the people for the grace to know where God wanted her to serve. On the last day of the Triduum, after the celebration of the Eucharist, Fr. Leoncio said to Ma. Teresa: " It is very clear; God has made me understand that He does not want you in Carmel, not even to visit it nor think about it because even by just thinking about it, you will offend Him. He asks from you large bouquets of souls of poor children and abandoned souls". To this, Teresa replied: "I see that the works that are pleasing to the eyes of God, are always stigmatized with pain, having long a Calvary and for the glorious and sublime epilogue, the cross!"…
Motivated by Fr. Leoncio to found a third order of Carmel, Ma. Teresa opened a school for poor children together with Rosa Maria Aguilar on June 1921 in Torreon, Coahuila. She considered this as the date of Foundation of her new Congregation. Missing the support from Fr. Leoncio, Teresa went to seek help from the Redemptorists in Torreon and met Fr. Ramiro Macua. The priest sent them to the Bishop of Durango who wanted missionaries to go to the mountain.
In 1925 they were sent as missionaries to the village of Tejamen. It was in Tejamen College where Maria Teresa discovered that only the Catholic school can change the indifference of the people, aided by children who are the apostles in their own homes. Fr. Macua, C.Ss.R., went to Tejamen to preach for three days of spiritual exercises and suggested to rename their congregation from "Militia of Mary" to "Missionaries of our Lady of the Perpetual Help", referring to a work that one of his brothers, Fr. Agustin Nistal had wanted to found but was prevented due to obedience.
Fr. Ignacio Flores, an Augustinian priest advised Teresa to search in Mexico the salvation of that work that she saw as coming from God. Ma. Teresa traveled to Mexico city. She met Fr. Baldomero Fernandez Silva, vice provincial of the Redemptorists in Mexico to whom she narrated the story of her work and the events that had happened. He informed her about the initiative of a very similar work that Fr. Agustin Nistal, a fellow Redemptorist, tried to do, but obedience did not permit it. He said that there was this young lady, Adelaida Islas, who was keeping the documents of that work and that perhaps, she could ask her for it.
On May 12, 1971, M. Ma. Teresa Rivera made her private vows and died on February 23, 1972 in the Casa Hogar of Zacatenco, Mexico City.
"Charity is the ornament of the life and soul of the Missionaries..."