Carmen Hernández

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Carmen Hernandez in the vocational meeting of the World Youth Day in Madrid.

María del Carmen Hernández Barrera (Ólvega, 24 November 1930 – Madrid, 19 July 2016) was a Spanish Roman Catholic catechist and the co-founder of the Neocatechumenal Way.


Carmen Hernández was born on 24 November 1930[1] or 1936[2] in Ólvega, Spain, but she moved with her family at a very young age to Tudela, Spain where she spent most of her childhood.[2][3] When she was 15 years old, her family moved to Madrid.[3] As a teenager, she resolved to be a missionary and wanted to go to India, but her father would not permit it.[3] She obtained a degree in chemistry in Madrid by the age of 21.[2][3] As soon as she could, she fulfilled her desire to become a missionary by joining the Missionaries of Christ Jesus,[3][4] from whom she received a degree in theology.[1][2] However, in 1962, she was expelled from the order.[3] Thereafter, she lived for two years in Israel to deepen her understanding of the Bible and catechesis, before returning to Spain. Inspired by Charles de Foucauld, she devoted herself to the poor and marginalized[1] in Palomeras Altas, one of the many shanty towns in postwar Madrid.[4] During this time, she met Kiko Argüello in Cursillo,[3] and together they formed the Neocatechumenal Way in 1964.[2][1] Hernandez always rejected the term "movement" because she hoped it would bless and revitalize the whole Catholic Church.[3]

Hernandez continued to be one of the primary leaders of the Neocatechumenal Way throughout her life, along with Argüello and Mario Pezzi.[1][2] The Catholic University of America awarded both Hernández and Argüello honorary doctorate in theology in 2015 in recognition of "their devotion to the poor and the good work they have done for the Church".[1] The University specifically recognized Hernández' knowledge of Christian scripture and church history as having been essential for the success of Neocatechumenal Way.[2]

She died on 19 July 2016 in Madrid at age 85.[1] At her passing, Pope Francis voiced appreciation for the witness of her faith and encouraged members of the Neocatechumenal Way to continue her work.[5][6]

Hernandez was described as courageous, determined, and blunt.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Glatz, Carol (20 July 2016). "Carmen Hernández co-founder of Neocatechumenal Way, dies". The Catholic Herald.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "Falleció Carmen Hernández, iniciadora del Camino Neocatecumenal" (in Spanish). Argentine Catholic Information Agency. 19 July 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Hermández, Carmen (20 July 2016). Turiel, Jose Luis; Llopis, Santiago (eds.). "Testimonio personal de Carmen -Iniciadora del Camino-" [Personal testimony of Carmen: Initiator of the Way]. (in Spanish). Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  4. ^ a b Bedoya, Juan G. (14 June 2008). "Roma bendice al fin a los 'kikos'". EL PAÍS (in Spanish). Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  5. ^ Glatz, Carol (22 July 2016). "Carmen Hernandez, co-founder of Neocatechumenal Way, dies". Catholic News Service. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  6. ^ "Pope sends his condolences for the passing of Carmen Hernández". Rome Reports. 21 July 2016. Retrieved 28 February 2018.
  7. ^ "Initiator of the Neocatechumenal Way, Carmen Hernandez, passes away". Rome Reports. 20 July 2016. Archived from the original on 19 August 2016.