“Santa Fina of Old Havana”: availability and service

By: Father José Conrado Rodríguez

Fina Vázquez Lois
Fina Vázquez Lois
Fina Vázquez Lois

Archdiocese of Havana, August 10, 2018. Every human being comes into this world and is a gift from our Father God. But there are people where that condition reaches special levels. Fina Vazquez Lois is one of those cases.
Fina was a gift from God to the Cuban Church. Born into a family of Galician emigrants for which work and faith were daily bread, fina’s parents in Cuba knew times of prosperity and times of scarcity, but educated their six daughters in a climate of deep love and unity. Fina was always aware of god’s great gift to her family, and also thanked God for giving her a husband like Gonzalo del Valle Suero, a simple man of great faith.
Gonzalo died a few years after he was married. For Fina began a time of total dedication to the apostolate. He supported, together with a group of friends, the founding of the Catholic Workers’ Youth (JOC) in Cuba. He participated in the tasks of the apostolate in various parishes, without abandoning the care of his mother and an elderly aunt that he brought home for this purpose.
Since 1959, in the face of the difficulties suffered by the Church, her commitment to faith has grown. She was very active in the conciliar renewal of the sixties, and as an organist, catechist, visitor of the sick and cheerleader of her brothers in the faith. Testimony in her work, in the Ministry of Foreign Trade, and in the neighborhood, made her life a lit lamp that illuminated those who treated her.
I met Fina in 1969, when I arrived from Santiago to the Seminary San Carlos and San Ambrosio. At that time, to her many tasks, she added that of copying our theology classes in writing so that we could have in writing the different subjects taught to us by Father René David.
God reserved one last service to this tireless apostle of the Kingdom: in the 1980s, Fina was the secretary of the Cuban Ecclesial Reflection (REC) and the Cuban National Ecclesial Meeting (ENEC). With Father Bruno Roccaro, she organized and took care of those roles, witnesses of the most fruitful experience of our Church in her five hundred years of pastoral action in Cuba.
When I think of Fina, two words come to mind: availability and service, first and for all, with God, and then with anyone who needed your help. She was not only generous with her money, but with her work, with her love and with her time. For years it took every day lunch to an old lady in the neighborhood who had no family. His fidelity and accompaniment to so many friends in Cuba and in exile prove it.
Fina was able to be a faithful and demanding friend. He was free to tell the truth gently, with his heart. A courageous and humble person, detached from himself and generous to the end, sown, and sown himself in the hearts of those we knew her.
When it came time to be cared for, there was Beatrice Teston, the daughter God gave her for her later years. In his inscrutable designs, God first called Beatrice, but there was never a lack of pious hands that cared for her to the end, and the attentive affection of the distant family, her sisters Antonia and Lola, and her nephews who felt for Fina more than affection, veneration.
In the long twilight of his ninety-eight years, he carried on his shoulders the weight of physical suffering and inevitable loneliness, of that nostalgia for a past that constitutes and defines us, but which we also yearn for. Fina faced it with courage, without squeache or complaints, that last hour.
Worried about the lack of news (his phone had been changed), I traveled to Havana. I went straight to her house and there I found out she was admitted to calixto Garcia. Late at night, I was able to enter the hospital to bring him communion and so I did the next day, before returning to Trinidad.
On Monday, August 6, a month after my visit, I received the call from Emilito Aranguren and Pepín Alvarez, from Holguin, with the news: Fina was already in the Father’s House. I felt sadness and joy, sadness for me and joy for her. With Beatrice I always joked that we were brothers, because we were Fina’s two sons. I’m sure “Santa Fina of Old Havana”, “Mama Fina”, and my sister Beatrice, will help me enter the Father’s House when my time comes. I hope so. Ω

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