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Margarita Hernandez makes first profession of vows

June 29, 2007

Sister of Providence from El Salvador to profess first vows in Spokane

Margarita Hernandez, 26, a native of El Salvador, will make first profession of the vows of chastity, poverty and obedience as a Sister of Providence at a 7 p.m. Eucharistic liturgy in Spokane on Wednesday, August 15. Celebrant for the Spanish and English Mass in the chapel at Mount St. Joseph, 12 West 9th Avenue, will be The Most Reverend William S. Skylstad, Bishop of Spokane. Father Misael Enrique Rueda Meza, SJ, will be a concelebrant. A reception in honor of Sister Margarita will follow the liturgy.

By taking these vows, Sister Margarita makes her formal commitment as one of the 168 sisters in Mother Joseph Province who embrace the charism and the mission of the Sisters of Providence.

"We got to know Sister Margarita as a girl, since her family lived next door to the Sisters of Providence mission in La Papalota, El Salvador," says Provincial/Leadership Team Coordinator Margaret Botch, SP. "We have shared living the Gospel and reaching out to the poor for many years, so it seems right for her to make this commitment to God as part of our religious community."

"En sus mano he questo mi confianza (In your hands I have put my confidence)" is the theme Sister Margarita has chosen for her vow ceremony.

She arrived in Spokane last spring, in the year in which the Sisters of Providence celebrated the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Mother Joseph and her four companions in the West in 1856. She came to Spokane from Chile, where she was a canonical novice in 2004, during the 150th anniversary celebration of Mother Bernarda?s arrival in that country.

:It is very significant for me to be present for two great celebrations in the Sisters of Providence's history," she says. "It is a blessing to be a part of something that honors two extraordinary women of Providence. Their work among the poor, both in the United States and Chile, is inspiring."

Sister Margarita's home village is in the Bajo Lempa region of El Salvador, which is where the Sisters of Providence first established their mission in 1995. During the war that ravaged El Salvador from 1980 to 1992, many people did not go to the church because they were easily influenced by those in authority and were afraid, she recalls. After the war ended, things slowly began to change. Once the Sisters of Providence arrived, she began to notice a growth in her community. "I saw the reality of our people. They began getting involved with the church again and their faith began to grow."

She became involved in her community as a youth group leader, animator and catechism teacher for young children, and was aided in her own education through scholarship funds contributed by Providence Associates in Portland, Ore. (Providence Associates are women and men of various faiths who share the mission and spirituality of Providence but who do not seek vowed membership.)

"The Sisters of Providence brought a new face to La Papalota," Sister Margarita says. "A lot of enthusiasm evolved among the people, especially the youth. I, too, began to open up to others more and felt a need to help."

Her admiration of the sisters' spirituality and prayer life led her to do a "Come and See" experience in 2001. This gave her the opportunity to live with the Sisters of Providence and see what it was like. She says she loved the experience and felt that her call to religious life was growing stronger.

"Taking my vocation to prayer helped me in making the decision to become a candidate," Sister Margarita explains. "I felt that this truly is the life God was calling me to do. His call is a wonderful mystery."

For now, Sister Margarita is studying English as a Second Language at the Institute for Extended Learning's Adult Education Center. Her dream is to study psychology so she can help her people in El Salvador. Her family back home includes her father, seven brothers and three sisters. Her mother died one month into Sister Margarita's candidate year.

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