Sunday, November 22, 2009

A day for Estela

Today Blanca Estela Garcia made her covenant as an Associate of the Oblates of the Heart of Jesus - I hope I have that wording correct! - and I was there on behalf of the many Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace whose lives Estela has touched.

Estela's history with us goes back to the days, in the late 1980s, when Sister Eleanor Gilmore was working with Jesuit Refugee Services at El Despertar in the San Antonio Abad neighborhood of San Salvador. Eleanor was overwhelmed with the amount of work needed to keep the house running as well as to get people coming in from the country to medical appointments, which was their main mission. She put up a notice at the San Antonio Abad parish asking if anyone would want to come to work with them, and clearly her guardian angel was working overtime that day, because Estela applied, was hired, and soon had the place humming, the patients organized, and the meals prepared. She and Eleanor became fast friends, as did Sister Margaret Byrne, who came to work at El Despertar for a couple of years, and later Sister Grace Didomenicantonio and I. Estela has taught each of us a great deal about faith and the love of God; her life has had many hard times, including losing her husband during the civil war and raising her daughter Susy on her own, but I've never seen her be other than joyful and grateful to God.

For many years since those days at El Despertar, Estela has worked with the Oblatas del Corazón de Jesus at Colegio Sagrado Corazon, an excellent girl's school, where she's been named head of the maintenance department. And for the last two years, she has been preparing with great intensity and devotion to make her oblation, to become an Associate Oblate. It was a beautiful Mass and ceremony, with a speech from each of the four making their covenant - Estela, characteristically, talked about her love for and commitment to her people, especially the poor. In the photo above, Estela is in the middle with a white blouse, and her daughter Susy is at bottom left. Congratulations, Estela - you will be a light for the Hermanas Oblatas as you have been and are for the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace.

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