Sisters: ‘Faith and obedience until death’

By Michelle Martin | Staff writer
Sunday, November 6, 2011

Sisters: ‘Faith and obedience until death’

Missionary Sister Veronica Cortez spends time with students during religious education class at St. Roman Parish, 2311 S. Washtenaw Ave., on Oct. 16. (Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)
Missionary sisters Veronica Cortez, Judith Cisneros, Patricia Reyes, Auxi Barcelo and Carmen Valenzuela peek through the door of St. Agnes of Bohemia Church, 2651 S. Central Park Ave., to watch a dance tribute by youth prior to Mass on Oct. 8. Cardinal George was the main celebrant at the Mass celebrating the sisters' 25 years of service to the Pilsen community. (Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)
Missionary Sister Sandra Irene Rodriguez discusses what Oscar Garcia is studying during religious education class at St. Agnes of Bohemia Parish, 2651 S. Central Park Ave. on Oct. 15. (Karen Callaway / Catholic New World)

Twenty-five years ago, Auxiliary Bishop John Manz was pastor of St. Agnes of Bohemia Parish in Little Village, and he was looking for help.

He found it in the Missionaries of St. Pius X, a congregation of sisters from Ciudad Obregon, Mexico. Three sisters came as explorers, starting a relationship with the young Hispanic community in Little Village that remains to this day.

The sisters were honored for their ministry Sept. 30 with the St. Teresa of Avila Award at Noche de Gala, the archdiocese’s annual celebration of Hispanic ministry, and Cardinal George celebrated a Mass in honor of their anniversary Oct. 8.

The motto of the congregation is simple, but significant, “Faith and obedience unto death.”

Twenty-seven sisters from the congregation have served in the archdiocese, not only at St. Agnes, but also at Cluster Parishes of Cicero/Berwyn, Good Shepherd, St. Roman and Epiphany. They do pastoral work, catechesis and evangelization, as well as providing social service.

“It is very satisfying to be with our Hispanic community, to accompany them in spirit, work in the formation of the laity, so that they may become better disciples of Jesus and see their commitment grow in their parish,” said Sister María Auxiliadora Barceló Moreno, one of the first three sisters to come to Chicago. “We feel blessed to walk with our people who are suffering in many ways.”

According to Bishop Manz, the sisters were well accepted not only by parishioners. They have done a job that sometimes is difficult for priests.

“I think in the pastoral concerns, there are things women can do,” said the bishop. “In certain cases, many men feel much more comfortable talking with the sisters.”

Father Walter Yepes, pastor of St. Roman Parish, says the work done by Missionaries of St. Pius X is “dedicated and selfless love.”

“They are a living presence in the community, they are people you trust. They work in coordinating catechesis and are of great help to me because of their experience, their training and example in the moral sense. They are women of prayer and dedication in their service,” he said.