Hispanic ministry director moves closer to her community
By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
June 3, 2004
The director of Hispanic ministry for the Diocese of Sioux City is leaving to
pursue Hispanic ministry elsewhere due to health reasons.
Sister Maria de Jesus Ybarra, OP, has worked for the diocese for three years
in Hispanic ministry. She has been a Dominican sister for 47 years. She will
move to Tacoma, Wash., where the central office of her community is located, to
continue her ministry.
Kay Morrissey, director of the Office of Faith Formation said, "She has
brought a level of awareness and insight to the department. We are grateful for
her presence here these last few years."
The weather in Iowa has not been a help to Sister Maria. Since she started in
the diocese, she has been having problems with her knees in the cold weather and
humidity. This year, she also had problems with her elbow and shoulder that
affected her writing. Her community felt that it would be to her benefit to move
back to Washington.
Sister Maria will be doing pastoral work among Hispanics. She will teach
classes in Spanish at a theological, pastoral center for lay people that her
She will also be working with Hispanic vocations. Her community would like to
establish a place where young women can go to spend time discerning whether or
not they would like to follow the religious life. She commented that this is one
of her dreams.
Sister Maria noted that she would live with a young woman who will soon make
her final vows as a sister in the Dominican community.
"I want to visit with her and help her out," said Sister Maria.
Her hopes for the continuation of Hispanic ministry after she leaves are that
there is a replacement director and that the new bishop is sensitive and open to
"I think the response on the part of the pastoral ministers, which is
the priests, has been open and sensitive," said Sister Maria. "They
see the need that there is to respond to the needs of the Hispanics."
She added that some places do not take into consideration the needs of the
Hispanics, but here most people are concerned and have gone out of their way to
accommodate the Hispanics.
There is currently a Hispanic ministry pastoral directory that was put out by
the Diocese of Sioux City. The objective of the directory is to unite and
coordinate efforts within a Collaborative Pastoral Model, seeking the
integration and participation of the Hispanic community in the life of the
church and society in the Diocese of Sioux City.
The directory explains how the diocese hopes to get Hispanics involved. It
offers services to families, married couples and people preparing for marriage.
They also have a newsletter, "EMAUS," for adults to keep the Hispanic
population informed of important events and news in the church.
"The population is growing," said Sister Maria. "I think
little by little the leadership is developing. We are working towards that so
that they can respond to their own pastoral needs."
Some of the things that people are beginning to call for in Hispanic ministry
are workshops, Bible studies or training for liturgical ministers, lectors or
Eucharistic ministers and catechists.
"I hope the community continues to open up," said Sister Maria.
"We have experienced some cases where the people don't feel welcome. I hope
that changes because we are all brothers and sisters of the same creed."