75 years serving God’s peopleThere was music, there was food, and there was celebration. But first there was praise.
On May 23, the Missionaries of Charity of Immaculate Mary (MCMI) celebrated the 75th anniversary of their order’s founding with a special Mass and a home-cooked lunch – accompanied by a live band -- at St. Mary Church in Garden City.
The Mass was celebrated by Father Jim Dieker, pastor of St. Anthony Parish, Liberal, with Father Wesley Schawe, pastor of St. Dominic, Garden City, and Father Trong Tran, pastor of St. Mary, Garden City, assisting.
Sisters Matilde Reyna Donis Monterroso, Sister Brigida Camarena Chavez, and Sister Maria Elena Martinez Sifuentez came to the Diocese of Dodge City from Denver in 2002. Sister Brigida left southwest Kansas after three years, and the Sisters welcomed Sister Rosa Emma Don-Martinez.
At their 2002 commissioning Mass, Bishop Ronald M. Gilmore said that during a 1998 meeting with the Holy Father, “He made the point consistently that these women are at the very heart of what Church is all about.
“Rejoice in the fact that you have these women in your midst,” the bishop said. “...They, who try to live the Gospel best, will help all of us ... live the Gospel better.”
“We were invited by the bishop to come and to help in the diocese,” said Sister Matilde, a native of Guatamala, soon after her arrival seven years ago this September.
“One Sister [Sister Maria Elena), she’s in Garden City helping the Spanish-speaking people; another [Sister Rosa Emma] is in Liberal doing the same. I am helping here in the Satanta parish as pastoral minister.”
The Sisters’ original plan was to stay in the diocese for approximately three years, during which time they would “...help people to know God properly; to be members of the Catholic Church -- full members, not half-way.”
But as often happens, they came, they ministered, and they decided to stay on a while longer than planned.
“For me it’s a very great experience,” Sister Matilde said of the last seven years, “especially to work with the Anglo community. I can see that they have big values.”
When asked how long the Sisters would be in southwest Kansas, Sister Matilde laughed and said in her thick Guatemalan accent, “I think we can stay until bishop says you must leave the diocese. I am happy here.
“I like to share my life, especially with the poor ones and those who are very, very ignorant and want to know how to live life properly. I like to help people in a very happy way. I don’t like people to be sad.”
The Sisters’ order was founded in Mexico City on March 29, 1934 by Father Moses Lira. A celebration of the order’s 75th anniversary was also held in Mexico in March.