Reaching Mexican-American teens in San Antonio

The work of Sister Guadalupe Ramirez and her religious community in San Antonio is a beautiful example of how a National Catholic Sisters Week mini-grant can grow – gaining momentum, expanding in scope and sparking new partnerships.

Sister Lupe, as she is affectionately known, yearned to provide spiritual guidance to the teenaged girls in her community through a Quincenera After Party. “Fifteen is a crucial age,” the theology professor told SisterStory.  

Using a $1,000 NCSW mini grant, she worked with her fellow Missionary Catechists of Divine Providence to host a first-of-its-kind event held at their convent on March 13. Sister Lupe also invited the girls’ parents – along with area businesswomen to address the teens and encourage them to advance their education and careers.

“We believe that by consecrated women and other lay women sharing their stories of living out their baptismal call, younger women will see more possibilities for themselves and be motivated to develop their own potential for leadership and service,” Sister Lupe wrote in her grant application.

The party was a great success, drawing in 17 teens, along with a variety of other attendees, ranging from five Jesuit novices and the CEO of a local non-profit.

“The whole spirit of the event was a joyful and inviting one,” Sister Lupe reported to the NCSW team. “More than anything else, this event gave our religious community a new sense of unity and hope for our future. …We were affirmed in our own vocation and experienced real teamwork among ourselves, contributing our diverse gifts to make something beautiful happen for these young women and their mothers.”

It hasn’t stopped there, Sister Lupe told me this week. “Life continues to be very exciting for us,” she said.

First off, the Missionary Catechists have scheduled another Quincenera After Party – this one to be hosted in South Texas on Oct. 1.

Secondly, they’re considering some form of follow-up with the 17 teens who attended their inaugural party in March. It may involve connecting them with college student in a leadership program sponsored by the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio. “The college women would serve as mentors for the youngest women as they continue to go to high school and encourage them to go to college,” Sister Lupe explained. “The director of the program is very excited about this idea and will be in touch with me soon.”

As the community looks to hold future Quincenera After Parties, the goal will be to keep in touch and provide ongoing support to the young women as they move forward.

“I highly encourage other religious communities to develop creative projects that inspire young women to grow in faith and in comment to others through relating to other young and not-so-young sisters and lay women,” Sister Lupe said. “This project continues to grow in scope, and that is inspiring us as a congregation to do more.”

 

Learn more

Learn more about NCSW mini-grants by reading this article, which summarizes the work of the 41 recipients of the 2016 inaugural mini-grant program.  

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About Christina Capecchi

Christina Capecchi is an award-winning journalist from Inver Grove Heights, Minn. She is the author of the nationally syndicated column “Twenty Something,” which appears in more than 50 Catholic newspapers across the country. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, America, The Chicago Tribune, The Star Tribune and The Pioneer Press. She also provides contracted editing and writing services. She holds a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and a bachelor’s from Mount Mercy University.