In 1976 Cecilia started studying for a degree in Biochemistry at Universidad Nacional del Sur and a year later  switched towards a Humanities degree, majoring in History. This meant that she had left the familiar religious-based educational institutions which until then had educated her and she now had entered a national secular university that was undergoing turbulent times.

During that time she also worked as a tutor at the Canossiano Institute, a job she held till 1981, before moving to Estrada High School, where, in addition to working as a librarian, she taught catechesis to five levels of secondary school.

The turbulent Argentine political life of that period impacted all of these academic and job experiences. In this landscape, Cecilia built great friendships and also gave concrete witness to her faith.

She stood out for her humility and simplicity. She was one of the youngest teachers; she liked to dress well and fashionably, often wearing two scarves intertwined which gave her a trendy and harmonious look.

Her whole young adulthood turned out to be a training of sorts in this Ideal* where she discovered God-Love. For her, superficial relationships did not exist. With her dedication and generosity, she managed to go beyond any differences and cover everything with love. She knew how to listen in the depths of her being and acted accordingly. That gave her a lot of freedom in her choices and actions. She had understood that love was not just a feeling, but concrete acts with which she intended to make whoever was at her side feel happy. A phrase she particularly identified herself with at that time was: “What do you do when you have loved others to the point of exhaustion? You continue loving!”

One of her students, who subsequently embraced the priesthood, described later her Catechesis classes as being in tune with the new times that the Church and society were experiencing, because they not only included formation topics but were also adapted to young people’s needs. This priest also acknowledged the influence Cecilia, as a teacher, had in his decision to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. In various writings of that time, students highlighted their young teacher’s love, generosity, dedication and commitment; they expressed their gratitude and attested that she was a model worthy of being imitated.

Immersed in the Gen groups (the youth branch of the Focolare Movement) during these years, Cecilia’s faith grew through regular guidance, reading the Word of God, and following the messages and news of Chiara Lubich. As the charism of this “Work” (of God) proposes, the participants of these groups encouraged and helped one another to “start again” when necessary, to embrace the will of God in their everyday life, in an effort to walk together towards holiness in a collective and communitarian way.

 

“ … Marita, a focolarina, tells us: ‘From 1975 until 1985-’86, I lived in the capital and used to travel to Punta Alta and Bahía Blanca. It was there that I met Ceci. I used to stay at her house. In general, I traveled on Friday night, arrived on Saturday morning and stayed there until Sunday night.

Her family made me feel at ease: I felt at  home. I remember Cecilia as a person who had a very harmonious life. I used to arrive early at the bus station and there she was, waiting for me. We would go to a coffee shop to drink something and she would update me with the important news about the life of the community at Punta Alta.

I was impressed by how mature she was, despite her being very young. She behaved like a mother and was very responsible. She had the ability to pay attention to all the details:  preparing the spaces for the different happenings during those days, finding the school for the meetings.

She was very sensitive and moved around freely. She knew how to listen to her conscience deep inside her and acted under its guidance and not that of outside influences.” (passage from the book Tus caminos son una locura By Licy Miranda, Ciudad Nueva Publishing House)

As a teen, Cecilia had started dating Luis Alberto Buide and although they didn’t continue once he moved to Buenos Aires to study, they kept in touch. When Luis returned from the capital to settle in Punta Alta, during the following two years, they started dating again and became engaged. They married on May 20, 1983, and started a family where love was the foundation for everything.

 

* The Ideal- a sort of nickname referring to “the choice of God” made by members of the Focolare living its spirituality; the term can also refer to the whole spirituality of the Focolare in general.