By Peter Bradley
In 1966, the Oblates of Santa Marta, O.S.M. began working at El Carmelo Retreat House in Redlands.
This religious community founded in Sottilo, Mexico in 1949 was already present in the United States working in the Diocese of Tucson.
The charism of the community is their faithfulness to Jesus Christ as expressed in their commitment to the priesthood of the Church. Whether preparing meals or tending to the needs of the Sacristy, the Sisters of Santa Marta are always connected to the ministry of the priest in the Church.
In 2008, the Oblates of Santa Marta came to St. Junipero Serra House of Formation in Grand Terrace to support the diocesan seminarians through prayer and the preparation of meals. The community life of the Sisters is the foundation of their ministry in the Church. The ordered structure for each day begins and ends with prayer. Daily Mass, praying the Rosary, studying Scripture and Adoration are integrated into the daily preparation of three meals at both El Carmelo and Serra House.
“The fundamental virtues in life are learned at home, looking to our parents, brothers and sisters,” says Father Jose Sanz, D.L.P., Rector at Serra House. “In the same way at the Seminary, the fundamental virtues are learned by the seminarians looking to the Oblates of Santa Maria.”
Currently, the Sisters at El Carmelo Retreat House are: Sister Lorenzo Martinez, Superior; Sister Bernavita Verela Quiroz, Sister Edna Valdez Mayagoitia, and Sister Siria Bernal Guerreero. The Sisters at Serra House are: Sister Francisca Cabrini Lira Ramirez, Superior; Sister Magdelena Sofia Lechuga Lopez, and Sister Maria del Carmen Jimenez Cruz.
The Oblates of Santa Marta have a special connection to Bishop Gerald Barnes. The community knew Bishop Barnes when he was a young seminarian. He will celebrate a special 50th Anniversary Mass with the community at El Carmelo on May 22.
The community currently has houses in Baltimore, Md., Portland, Ore. and the two in San Bernardino. The community is excited that the Superior General will travel from Mexico to be present at the Bishop’s Dinner in April for the Award Ceremony.