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Carmen Hernade, co-founder of Neocatechumenal Way, in 2011. She passed away in Madrid July 19 at the age of 85. Photo/Courtesy of Cutrupe, Wikimedia Commons

Carmen Hernandez, co-founder of Neocatechumenal Way, dies

By  Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
  • July 20, 2016

ROME – Carmen Hernandez, co-founder of the Neocatechumenal Way, died in Madrid July 19 at the age of 85.

Together with Kiko Arguello, they founded the parish-based faith formation program in the 1960s as a way to deepen people's faith and evangelize those normally excluded by society.

Hernandez, Arguello and Fr. Mario Pezzi served as the leaders of the Way on the international level. There are Neocatechumenal communities in 120 countries across the world, including Canada.

Born in Olvega, Spain, Nov. 24, 1930, Hernandez received a degree in chemistry and worked for a time at a major food company her family founded and ran. However, she soon left to join the Missionaries of Christ Jesus to do mission work abroad. She also received a degree in theology.

Inspired by the work of the Second Vatican Council, Hernandez then spent two years in Israel deepening her understanding of Scripture and the importance of catechesis.

Back in Spain, she met Arguello and — both inspired by Blessed Charles de Foucauld — they sought to be present among the poor, according to Vatican Radio.   

Her funeral Mass was to be held July 21 in Madrid's cathedral, celebrated by Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra.

Pope Francis spoke with Hernandez over the phone to offer encouragement July 1 during a private audience with Arguello and Pezzi, according to a press release from the Way. 

In an interview with Vatican Radio July 20, Arguello said Hernandez was an important role model for many young women. 

"They said it was thanks to Carmen they found pride in being a woman," he said.

"She always talked about the importance of women in the Church" and how they figured prominently in the Bible, he said. She would personally ask young women to consider monastic life, he said, adding that more than 4,000 young women from the Neocatechumenal Way are now cloistered nuns.

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