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Apostolic Movement

A Schoenstatter lit the torch for the Pan American Games

By: Denise Ganderats / Vinculo Magazine

Lucy López Cruz is Chilean, and she is 93 years old. She is very happy these days, although somewhat tired, because she has been very busy recently, not only working as a volunteer in the 2023 Pan American Games, but also giving many interviews to different types of media, since her vitality, joviality and enthusiasm when it comes to talking about sports has attracted everyone’s attention. And the fact is that sports have influenced her whole life.

The Vínculo magazine team also wanted to interview her to learn a little more about this Schoenstatt member who has brought so much joy to Chile in sports and who today, with the wisdom that comes with age, shares with us her message of dedication, commitment and perseverance learned since she was a child.

At what age did you start playing sports?

I started skiing when I was about 8 years old. I belonged to the Chilean Andean Club brigade in Lagunillas. I skied practically every week and when there was no snow we would go trekking in Santiago with my family. That gave me the strength to become an athlete. In the athletic field I started watching championships and then I went with a friend to the Catholic University to start my career as an athlete. Before I got married, I participated in several South American competitions and in the first Pan American Games in 1951 where I won a silver medal.

There were years that I did not practice sports due to kidney surgery and motherhood. When I returned to the University, I resumed my sports activities and won a scholarship to train in Germany. I was there for a year and my husband, my mother, my mother-in-law, my sisters, my nanny, all helped me to take care of my children, who were not so young because the two older ones were already in college.

What was your primary occupation?

When I came back from Germany, I held a professorship in athletics at the University of Chile and I started to train teachers to become coaches. I also worked as a basketball, volleyball and track and field coach in clubs, and this allowed me to travel to international championships. I also taught at Salvador University College and for 24 years at the Villa María College.

How did you get to participate in the Santiago 2023 Pan American Games?

I offered myself as a volunteer, especially in the track and field competitions. In one of the general meetings they asked me to participate in the opening ceremony and then they told me that I was going to light the Olympic flame – I was the oldest person and I had a sports background – but I have problems with my knee and I felt insecure to be by myself on the stage with the weight of the torch, so I did not want to fail or make a fool of myself and Fernando González and Nicolás Massú helped me, it was a very nice generational transfer!

“I offered myself as a volunteer, especially in the track and field competitions. In one of the general meetings they asked me to participate in the opening ceremony and then they told me that I was going to light the Olympic flame…”

When and how did you get to know Schoenstatt?

When I was in school at Liceo 7, in the 6th grade of humanities (currently 4th grade), during one of those events that took place at the school with the principal and the students in April 1949, a German priest arrived with some German sisters to invite us to participate in the Schoenstatt Movement. It was Father Kentenich with his white beard, who came personally to invite us! It was very nice to see him and to have been there! At the High School there were no religion classes because it was secular, but all of us who wanted to participate went every Saturday to the school of the Argentinean Nuns, on Pedro de Valdivia, and there we met with the German sisters who only spoke German.

I could not participate every Saturday because many times it coincided with sports tournaments and I had to go to compete. I missed many Saturday meetings, but I was so touched by what we talked about when I did go, that afterwards, always before going to compete, I went to the earliest Mass in the parish near my house and I offered my race to the Blessed Mother and with that I left with peace of mind.

When did you make your Covenant of Love and to which Shrine are you linked?

During my time at the university and later with my children, I did not continue to participate in the Movement, I distanced myself a little. But when I began to work, I joined the Ladies’ Branch and, together with my group, we sealed the Covenant of Love in the Providence Shrine. Working at Villa Maria, I accompanied the courses many times to retreats at the Shrine of Bellavista, so I was also closely linked to that Shrine.

Later, when I participated in the Barcelona Olympics, I stayed for a few days with some colleagues in Cologne and we went to the Original Shrine with some German friends, one Jewish and the other one who did not believe in anything, and when they learned about Schoenstatt, they were very impressed; so much so, that the one who did not believe in anything converted and became a Catholic.

With this jump, Lucy won the silver medal at the Pan American Games in Argentina.

What do you like most about Schoenstatt?

The best thing is that the Blessed Mother always accompanies me and never leaves me on my own. My daughter gave me a medal of the Blessed Mother that I always carry with me and I put it inside my blouse, hidden because I am afraid that it will be stolen. I don’t leave the house unless I go out with my Blessed MTA.

To what branch do you currently belong?

I used to participate in the Ladies’ Branch and with the Pilgrim Mother, but it has been very sad for me as many of the people to whom I took the Blessed Mother have died because of the pandemic, including people younger than me but older ones too. Currently, I only take the Blessed Mother to the neighbors in my building because I also walk with a cane and I can’t move around as much. I live alone with a caregiver, and she accompanies me to the Shrine every other Sunday.

How do you relate sport with your spiritual life? What are the things that define your personality?

I’m not so interested in winning or in getting a medal. The important thing is that you are able to do what you set out to do, that you are able to give the best of yourself. That has made me very demanding of myself, and sports have given me discipline, perseverance, determination, and the ability to give my best. It has meant having projects, setting goals, and achieving them. It is about surpassing oneself. As Father Hurtado used to say, you have to give until it hurts; and if there is someone who is better, congratulate him.

What message would you like to convey to those of us reading this interview?

During this time in which I have been interviewed so many times, it has been very gratifying to know that one has contributed a grain of sand in the growth of so many young people I taught. There are many generations!

Leaving footprints fills one’s soul. Some blind athletes who will participate in the Parapanamerican Games also asked me to accompany them when they compete to give them strength so that they can do well. What I would like to say to all of them is to strive for their projects and set goals and give the best of themselves. Whatever you do, do it well, to the best of your ability.

Source: Vinculo Magazine


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