Araceli left this world on 20 March 2012, at the age of eighty-nine. She had been living at Mariapolis Peace, in Tagaytay, Philippines. The day before she died, accustomed as she was to living Gospel love, she had had prepared a little snack for some workers who had come to do some repairs at the Mariapolis Centre. Then, suddenly, as a result of a stroke, she became seriously ill and passed away surrounded by the love and affection of everyone there.
Araceli and her husband, Melchior, came to know the spirituality of Chiara Lubich in 1964 when they met Fr Taschner, a religious and pioneer of the Focolare Movement in Asia and, subsequently in 1966, when they met Giovanna Vernuccio and Guido Mirti (Cengia), the first focolarini to go to the Philippines.
Araceli had always considered herself a good wife and mother. Her encounter with the Focolare came at a time when her relationship with Melchior was going through a tough patch; it made her realise that in order to truly be a good wife and mother she should care for her family by imitating Mary in the house of Nazareth.
She confided this in a letter to Chiara Lubich who responded by giving her a “motto” for her life, a phrase from the Gospel: “My soul magnifies the Lord” (Lk. 1:46).
Soon, both Araceli and Melchior discovered that God was calling them to give themselves to him as a couple within the Focolare. Their family became a focus, a centre of irradiation for the growth of the Movement in Manila and in many other towns which they regularly visited.
Following their parent’s example of “being ready to give their lives for each other”, the eight sons and daughters competed in loving one another – doing household chores, caring for the younger ones – and they in turn made a serious commitment to live the life of the Gen, the new generation of the Focolare Movement. Consequently, three of the children chose to follow God in the focolare.
Following the death of Melchior in 1981, Araceli expressed her desire to Chiara Lubich to continue her life of service to the Movement by leaving her own home and going to live in a Focolare community. She spent a few years in the Focolare Centre in Manila and then at Mariapolis Peace in Tagaytay, where she worked as a solicitor, a profession which she practiced with great love towards everyone until her death.
In 2010, during her visit to Asia, Maria Voce had the opportunity of meeting her personally. “This is what Araceli wrote to me: ‘I’d like to be small tile in the mosaic of the great Work of Mary in order to contribute, at least a little bit, to fulfil the testament of Jesus: ‘May they all be one’. I’m at a stage where I feel that I’m heading towards the sunset of my life; the cross that comes to me day by day is enough for me, and I ask for the grace to embrace it and to entrust myself to God’s merciful love!’”
In March 2012, Araceli wrote to Giovanna Vernuccio, saying goodbye and thanking her for the important moments they had shared for more than forty years: “Now a great desire is pervading my heart: to die as a saint! And so I’d like to ask the Eternal Father to take me when his plan for me is accomplished, and I implore Our Blessed Mother to look upon me and continue to accompany me in the Holy Journey. Thank you!”