July 29, 2012
Oblate Sisters live daily call to renew their vows Religious women among awardees at this year’s Noche de Gala
Oblate of Jesus the Priest Sister Manuela Rodriguez works in the sacristy at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago on May 22. A group of five nuns from the order, all originally from Mexico, have lived at Holy Name Cathedral since 2001. Karen Callaway / Catholic New World
Oblate of Jesus the Priest Sr. Manuela Rodriguez prays in the chapel with Sr. Teresa Sandoval at the Holy Name Cathedral Rectory on May 22. Karen Callaway / Catholic New World
Oblate of Jesus the Priest Sisters Rosa Sandoval and Manuela Rodriguez visit with Fr. Miguel Angel Diaz and Fr. Fernando de Jesus Lopez in the Rectory at Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago on May 22. The visitors went to the seminary in Aguascalientes Mexico with Bishop Rojas, and came to celebrate with him on their 15th anniversary as priests. Karen Callaway / Catholic New World
Oblate of Jesus the Priest Sr. Yolanda Vazquez sets the table for lunch for the priests at Holy Name Cathedral Rectory on May 22. Karen Callaway / Catholic New World
In the midst of the chaos on Chicago’s Near North Side, behind Holy Name Cathedral, there is a space in the rectory building dedicated to prayer and meditation. There, surrounded by stillness and silence in the middle of the city, resides a group of sisters known as the Oblate Sisters of Jesus the Priest.
A group of five nuns from the order, all originally from Mexico, have lived at Holy Name Cathedral since 2001.
“We are in charge of the kitchen at the cathedral,” explained Sister Manuela Rodriguez, the mother superior. “We help do the laundry and tend to the sacristy. Above all, we pray for the priests. This is our mission: Pray for the priests and seminarians and for an increase in priestly and religious vocations.”
The cathedral is the fourth place where the sisters have ministered in the archdiocese. The order was founded in Mexico by a French priest, Father Felix de Jesus Rougier, in 1924, with the idea of supporting the priesthood by way of work and prayer. The sisters came to Illinois in September 1961, when they arrived at Niles College of Loyola Seminary, subsequently St. Joseph Seminary on the Lakeshore Campus of Loyola University Chicago. At the same time, the Oblates founded a community at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary, and a house of formation in Hometown.
The Oblate Sisters’ routine is sustained by a simple life, and it is often very difficult for them to talk about themselves, since they prefer to focus on their religious and community responsibilities. This silent effort, this modest tenacity in a culture that tends to shout and promote its achievements, is what led to them receiving the St. Teresa of Avila award that will be given during the 14th annual Hispanic Ministry Awards Banquet, Noche de Gala, this August.
For Sister Patricia Garay Morales, the award recognizes a way of life. It demonstrates “that you can live a consecrated life in this day and age,” she said. “I think that because of this trajectory, there are many sisters who have passed through here, that are already enjoying God’s presence, or continue giving service. For me it is very beautiful, a detail of God through them. It’s a form of saying, ‘you can live this way of life’ because sometimes the issue is not even discussed.”
Sister Patricia joined the congregation in December 1989. “I am very happy,” she said. “I live in love with what is the spirituality of the congregation, which is the church itself. It’s a charism, a gift that God gives the church and that we carry out.”
Sister Rosa Maria Sandoval, who has been a part of the congregation for 53 years, shares that same enthusiasm.