Pope Francis proclaimed a Year of Consecrated Life that began the first Sunday in Advent and will conclude Feb. 2, 2016. The Catholic Messenger asked members of religious communities in the Davenport Diocese to reflect on their ministry in religious life.
Sister Maria Caridad Inda, CHM
What year did you enter the CHM community? 1953.
What inspired you to join the community? I like to teach and I wanted to make a difference in the church in Mexico and the U.S.
What ministries were/ are you engaged in? Most of my religious life has been devoted to intercultural ministry. I spent several years teaching in parish high schools and decided that was not the way I wanted to spend my life. Therefore, I sought and found work in Latin America and/or with Latin American organizations. I worked for the Latin American section of the League of Women Voters editing their Spanish-language bulletin and creating a network of women throughout Latin America that were served by and in turn served the interests of like-minded women.
I also worked on a project to create a network of appropriate technology organizations in several countries of Latin America whose purpose was to exchange information and complement their various community-based interests. My job was to find the organizations in different countries that had developed or adapted an appropriate technology, such as using bamboo as an alternative to plastic, sharing knowledge about the medicinal use of local plants, adapting Freirían-type programs for alphabetization for adults, and creating simple bookkeeping systems for local operations that needed to submit reports about grants they had received from development groups. The next step was to organize international gatherings, usually held in Costa Rica, to bring the various groups together and help them learn from each other and, when possible, support each others’ efforts. For three years I spent about 80 percent of the time in the field.
Throughout my life I have always been working on translation projects. I translated the seminal book on Liberation Theology, Gustavo Gutiérrez’ “Teología de la Liberación” into English. I also translated the documents, which were prepared for and by the Conference of Latin American Bishops (CELAM) in an effort to “translate” the core thought of the Second Vatican Council for its implementation in Latin America.
I translated several books for the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, a Mexican-based religious community. They needed their founders’ biographies rendered in English to use in the United States, specifically in California and Oregon, where they had established English-speaking missions and seminaries. I also translated books about the founder of the Felician Sisters, a Polish community which now has more members in the U.S. than in Poland! More recently I translated a book prepared for the Hilton Foundation for Sisters documenting missionary projects funded by the foundation worldwide. This is a sampling of my work!
For the last 30 years I have collaborated with Sister Kevin Bissell, CHM, in the creation and running of a language and culture center in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Throughout its existence it has served many church-related students, from seminarians to archbishops, as well as persons in many other fields interested in learning or perfecting their Spanish language and acquiring a better understanding of the Latin American culture. Sr. Kevin was in charge of recruitment, fundraising and keeping the Center for International Resources, Inc., CIRIMEX, operational despite the profound changes in international finances. My work is to coordinate the work in the field: the language, culture and pastoral programs, the housing network and the myriad activities related to the running of the center.
What is your favorite form of prayer? Conversing with God.
What is your favorite Scripture? Nothing is impossible with God.
Who [was] your spiritual mentor? I have learned a living faith from living persons and also from books. Sr. Kevin Bissell, given to me as my big sister by Mother Magdalen when I entered, has been a wonderful example of carrying on the work of the community having physical pain as your constant companion.
I also learned from my friend Sister Ritamary Bradley who spearheaded the Sister Formation Movement. Bishop Samuel Ruíz Garcia has always been an inspiration and a model of how to be church. Paulo Freire’s teachings about education as the practice of freedom, and Bishop Casaldáliga’s missionary example and compelling poetry. I really don’t have time to list them all.