This little girl died of cancer at just 10 years old, but left an extraordinary legacy in her desire to serve God.
The star of this extraordinary story is little Teresita Castillo, whom the Archdiocese of Madrid has officially recognized as a missionary.
Teresita was suffering from brain cancer. She left this world for the Father’s eternal embrace on Sunday, March 7, 2021, offering her sufferings to God from her hospital bed.
Her story evokes that of St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus, the young Carmelite nun who never left the cloister, and yet was proclaimed patroness of the missions. There’s nothing more missionary, after all, than offering the sacrifice of oneself to God for the salvation of souls, whatever the circumstances.
The official recognition of Teresita as a missionary began with the visit of a priest to La Paz hospital in Madrid. Father Ángel Camino Lamela, episcopal vicar of the archdiocese, went there on February 11 to celebrate Holy Mass and visit the sick.
One of the patients he visited was Teresita, who had tumor removal surgery scheduled for the next day. He shared the whole experience in a public letter, and it was also covered in an article on the website of the Archdiocese of Madrid.
“I want to be a missionary”
During her conversation with the priest, the girl declared, “You know something? I love Jesus very much!”
Her mother then told her, “Tell Fr. Angel what you want to be.” Teresita was resolute: “I want to be a missionary!”
Amazed and moved, the priest later related his reaction:
It was totally unexpected. I had to draw strength out of nowhere, because of how much emotion her response provoked in me, and I said to her, “Teresita, I constitute you this very instant as a missionary of the Church and I will return this afternoon to bring you your official document and the missionary cross.”
Officially a missionary
Fr. Ángel gave Teresita the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and gave her the Eucharist. From there, he went to buy a beautiful sheet of paper, and then back to his office to draw up and print a simple document recognizing Teresita as a missionary.
That afternoon, he returned to the hospital with a cross and with the signed and stamped document for Teresita. The girl’s mother could hardly believe what was happening.
Her daughter asked to have the cross hung by her bed, saying, “Put the cross on the bar so I can get a good look at it. Tomorrow I’m taking it to the operating room. I’m already a missionary!”
God, however, wanted Teresita to intercede for the missions with Him in heaven. She died on March 7 of this year and was buried the following day.
Born in Russia, Teresita was the adopted daughter of a Spanish couple and lived in Spain since the age of 3. She demonstrated from early childhood a powerful spiritual life. She attended Holy Mass every day at the school of the Daughters of St. Mary of the Heart of Jesus in Madrid.
Cardinal Archbishop Carlos Osoro made a point of calling the family during the wake to give them his condolences and his blessing. Teresita’s testimony of faith quickly and deeply resonated among the missionaries in Spain.
Fr. Ángel Camino invited the faithful to pray for Teresita and to entrust themselves to her: “I’m sure that she will protect in a special way the entire vicariate in which she was constituted a missionary.”
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