Award winning author, musician to serve
as Director of Hispanic MinistryBy David Myers
Her resume reads like a novel -- nine pages detailing activities and accomplishments that are hard to believe could fit into a mere 35 years of service to the Church.
When the SKR brought up the intimidation factor of such a resume with its author, Sister Angela Erevia, MCDP, she let out a laugh and responded, “I’m just a simple cotton-picker from Texas.”
Sister Angela will soon serve the diocese as Director of Hispanic Ministry. Sister Angela belongs to the religious community, the Missionary Catechists of Divine Providence based in San Antonio, whose mission is to evangelize all peoples, especially the poor.
She’s a writer, having written the book on Quinceañera, a right of passage for girls. She’s been published dozens of times, is an accomplished musician, has received numerous awards, and has studied or worked all over the globe. And she is quick to laugh with a humility that belies her extensive accomplishments
Southwest Kansas Register: What made you choose to come to our diocese?
Sister Angela Erevia, MCDP: I did go to interview in Tucson. After I discerned with a counselor in my community that works with us when we’re in transition, she asked one question: Angela, where’s the greater need? I said, well, Dodge City. Some dioceses have more resources available. That’s always the determining factor in our decisions: Where’s the greater need? I am excited; I already feel like I’m one of the team, the way Sister Gemma and Father Bob [Schremmer, vicar general] have been communicating with me.
SKR: Can you summarize what you would like to accomplish here?
Sister Angela: Live out the charism of the Missionary Catechists of Divine Providence (MCDP) and what we vow according to the MCDP Constitutions: “As catechists we enable and empower the poor to become Church.” I would do this by providing formation to prepare leaders for the Church and for those persons interested in knowing more about our Catholic faith. I am open to finding out what the needs are and be creative in responding to those needs.
SKR: We have a quickly growing Spanish-speaking population. What do you think is a good way to begin progressing toward more unity between the Spanish speaking community and the Anglo community?
• To provide them faith opportunities to reflect on Matthew 25:35.
• To develop a process to help groups know, appreciate, and celebrate who they are, their history (how their families got to this country), their hopes and dreams, their strengths to be affirmed and their weaknesses to be challenged. In the catechetical process of faith development, our weaknesses are the areas of personal and communal conversion.
• To facilitate a dialogue with both groups for an opportunity for them to share the best of their cultures. (In this mix you might want to include the Filipinos, Vietnamese, and all other immigrant groups in the diocese.)
• To encourage them to ask questions they might have about each other’s group or groups.
• To provide opportunities for groups to be able to share the best of their experiences of their own cultures.
• To plan events … food and/or music festivals.
• To have bilingual liturgical celebrations during Advent & Christmas, Lent and Holy Week, First Communions, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, etc.
SKR: Can you describe one of the struggles of the Spanish-speaking community that Anglos may not, but should, understand or at least recognize?
Sister Angela: The stress at all levels caused by having to leave their own country, their own family, and their familiar surroundings to come to this country looking for employment merely to survive and to support their families.
SKR: What is the greatest gift of the Spanish speaking population?
Sister Angela: The faith of the people expressed in their trust that the Church is a welcoming faith community. They seek the Church for a sense of belonging and solidarity in the struggle of all peoples for justice, peace, and unity.
SKR: You’ve worked or studied overseas a great deal. What have your international travels/experiences taught you that others could benefit from knowing?
Sister Angela: We are just one component of the human family. In years past, the United States used to send missionaries to foreign lands to evangelize their people. Today those evangelized by U. S. missionaries are now coming to the U. S. to evangelize us. Just look at all the immigrants now in our communities. They are forcing us to look at some pretty basic values, like the family, participation in the life of the Church, religion, work ethic, employment and business practices, political involvement, educational opportunities, health standards, etc.
SKR: Where were you born?
Sister Angela: I was born in Lockhart, TX.
SKR: Do you have brothers and sisters?
Sister Angela: Seven sisters and one brother: five older sisters and one younger brother and one younger sister. All deceased except my younger sister, Maria, who lives in Heber Springs, AR.
SKR: What did your parents do?
Sister Angela: My father was classified as a laborer and my mother, a housewife. During the cotton season, we were all “cotton specialists.” We took care of the cotton plants by “hoeing” the weeds; we saw the cotton bloom and change to cotton bolls, then we picked it, weighed it, marked the pounds picked on a small ledger, emptied the sacks in a trailer, and sometimes the farm owner would allow us to drive the trailer to the cotton gin. We saw how the seeds were removed from the cotton.
SKR: Do you have any hobbies?
Sister Angela: Music and writing.