Myrta Cristina Iturriaga Bustos was born May 18, 1942, in Temuco, Chile, to Deacon Juan Iturriaga and Natalia Bustos. Her large family included 10 sisters and three brothers.
Myrta, the firstborn, met the Sisters of Providence when she attended Sacred Heart School in Temuco. Her mother wanted the children to have a good Catholic formation. The girls all went to the Sisters of Providence School and the boys to the Franciscan School.
A year after graduation, in 1960, Myrta entered the Sisters of Providence in Santiago. She professed first vows in 1963 and final vows in 1968.
Sister Myrta has a degree in elementary education with specialties in religion and mathematics from the Catholic University of Chile. She is also a graduate of the Catholic University of Antofagasta, Chile, in school administration.
In her first ministry, Sister Myrta taught elementary school, then high school. Later she became the principal of the Professional School in Ovalle, Chile. This was her favorite ministry, educating very poor students. “I could improve the lives of the families in so many ways,” Sister Myrta explained. “I helped them create a strong sense of community and set high goals based on the faith that God was with us in the journey.”
Sister Myrta came to Spokane, Wash., in 1988, when she was called to be a missionary to the Hispanic community in Connell, Wash., offering catechism, baptism, first communion, formation and pastoral care for families.
To prepare, she attended multicultural training at the Pastoral Center, San Antonio, Texas, and studied English at Gonzaga University, Spokane.
Sister Myrta went on to volunteer with the Diocese of Spokane where she served as prison and detention minister and provided translation services. She was recognized with the Volunteer of the Year award from Airway Heights Correctional Center.
“The presence of God with me all the time has been very clear in every step of my life. It is a blessing to offer your gifts to others and to receive more than 100% back from them,” she said.
Sister Myrta found it especially meaningful to provide retreats, conferences and catechetical formation to members of the Hispanic community and host conferences to teach people about Hispanic culture. She was honored to become a U.S. citizen in 2002.
“I have experienced the loss of my mother, father, two sisters and brother. To be so far from my comfort zone and family was not easy. “I am so grateful to God, my family, the sisters, students and many friends who made it possible for me to get to this point.
Sister Myrta now volunteers at Catholic Charities in Spokane, serving the homeless with love and respect as they learn to care for themselves in their new apartments.
“Only with faith in the loving Providence of God with me, were all these events in my life possible.”