Isabel Rocha

  • Isabel Rocha rscj (photo taken during Probation in Rome)

I was born in Melo city in northwest Uruguay. I am the eldest of four siblings. Although we now live far from each other, we are in close contact. My mother died 18 years ago, and my father continues to live in Melo. I have a lovely relationship with my grandmother and my three aunts, who were with me as I was growing up.  From them I received protection and care.

Since a very young age, and without even being conscious of it, I was a contemplative child. I remember sitting silently for hours in the house when I was about 5 years old — a silence and an encounter that deepened with the passing years. I began to practice yoga when I was about 17, immersing myself deeper into silence and contemplation — a practice that I continue doing and teaching up to now.

We siblings all went to the local barrio church. I enjoyed that and was always involved in the catechesis and the Sunday eucharist. Although I didn’t understand very much, there was something there that I felt comforted by. But, when I was around eleven years old some things happened that angered me, and I moved away from the Church. 

In spite of having been distant from the church my relationship with God was still there:  God was always my strength and my guide, always directing me to the truth and to those who are weakest.  As my response, I have worked with children of differing abilities, with seniors, young pregnant women, in a psychiatric clinic, in schools… I have also worked as a volunteer, since I was 12 years old, with children and families in needy barrios, or in the home for senior citizens.

I had always known the desire to look for God’s will. As a child I often repeated this phrase: “The only thing I want is to do your will.” I was blessed to feel the immense love of God for me. Feeling the heartbeat of God and of the World within me is for me my primary reality.

I was already an adult when I became reconciled with the Church. I remember the first time I went into a church after many years, the parish of St Francis of Assisi: I felt as if I had come home. Straight away I began to work as a volunteer. I prepared for my communion, confirmation, and trained as a catechist…  It was a beautiful experience, and I felt each step I was taking very deeply.

This renewed my call to religious life, which I had sensed when I was only 7 years old and felt certain that I had been born for God.  I thus began the search, accompanied by a priest friend, and got to know several congregations. After a long retreat in one of the monasteries I was attracted to, I felt that God wanted me to be among people, living with them in their communities. 

I got to know the Religious of Sacred Heart in Montevideo. The first time I visited the community in El Talar, I felt my heart race and knew at once that this was where Jesus wanted me. I felt at home. I knew this was where I could be myself, that it was the place Jesus was inviting me to live from my heart, walking with Him, in community, among the poor. I was accompanied for a while by one of the sisters and I began to visit them, going weekly and joining in with their activities, and giving yoga classes to a group of women. After some months I went to live with the community in Salto City, and little by little experienced the confirmation that this was where God wanted me. 

I travelled to Argentina to begin “my Nazareth experience” (novitiate); after which I went to live in Reconquista in the north of Argentina. Two years later, with Analía and Marta, we opened a new community in a barrio on the outskirts of Montevideo, and there I lived for a little more than three years. 

In 2017, I spent five months of international experience in India, a country I had in my heart since childhood.  There I experienced a very close union with the Heart of Jesus. 

On 28th January 2018 I made my final profession in Rome, where I had shared life very joyfully with my dear probation sisters. 

Now, after 9 years, I am back in Salto City in Uruguay, living with Viviana and Ana, my two sisters and companions on the journey.