South Texas Catholic (Corpus Christi, Tex.), Vol. 22, No. 10, Ed. 1 Friday, March 6, 1987 Page: 1 of 16
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Vol. XXII, No. 10
Serving the 314,812 Catholics in the Diocese of Corpus Christi
March 6, 1987
Our Lenten journey
‘I was ill and you comforted me’
By Rachelle Parry Ramon
Editor’s note: During this Lenten season, many
Catholics prepare for the resurrection of Jesus at
Easter by fasting, praying and acts of charity. In this
way, their sacrifice of food and time benefits others as
well as themselves. In the next few issues of the South
Texas Catholic, we will highlight some i*iy unselfish
people who reflect God’s love through their corporal
works of mercy.
ROBSTOWN—Suffering is something Sister
Esther Silva, MDPVM, sees every day, something to
which she has given much thought and dedicated her
Just the thought—much less the reality—of suffer-
ing is something we try to avoid as much as possible.
Sister Silva recognizes this tendency, and helps suf-
fering people find the hope that faith in Jesus brings.
“Tenemos que ir parejos con Dios,” said Sister
Silva in Spanish. Translated it means, "We have to
walk with God.”
Through an interpreter she continued to explain
her philosophy. “Suffering is something we must do.
We need to remember that there is a purpose to our
Describing the “ultimate suffering" of Jesus,
Sister Silva said, “Christ suffered and was resur-
rected by the Father. Mary, Our Mother, suffered
too, and was resurrected. In the same way, through
our suffering, we are resurrected.”
This is a strong conviction of Sister Silva’s, and
her actions reflect her belief. Her ministry as a Mis-
sionary Daughter of the Most Pure Virgin Mary is to
visit the sick in hospitals and homes for the aged, and
to console the families of persons who have died.
Sister Silva, 60, has lived at St. Anthony’s convent
and worked here since 1978. She was here before
from 1968 to 1973. Originally from Nieves
Zacatecas, Mexico, she entered the convent in 1947,
moved to Baja, Calif., in 1950 and worked in a
parish there for 18 years.
Faith and hope allow Sister Silva and the approx-
imately 40 lay people from Robstown who assist her,
to carry on every day. “We visit about 200 sick peo-
ple a month,” which is about 50 people a week.
On Mondays they visit Retama Manor Nursing
Center here, where they talk with the residents “to
get them in the right frame of mind,” as Sister Silva
says, about the suffering they are experiencing.
Tuesdays are spent at Riverside Hospital, and
every other day of the week is devoted to visiting
other hospitals and people’s homes. At each place,
Sister Silva and the lay Eucharistic Ministers offer
Holy Communion, pray the rosary, sing and listen.
Sister Silva emphasized how much suffering peo-
ple need to have someone listen—to know that so-
meone is there and cares for them.
Many of them feel death approaching and need
“to clear their conscience,” said the Sister. “1 tell
them, ‘I cannot give you absolution as the priests
do.’ But I still hear many confessions!”
Sister Silva’s dedication does not end when a per-
son dies. She continues to console the family by
leading rosaries, reading scripture and singing at the
funeral home and at the family’s home.
“I say, ‘This is not the end; we must have hope.
The world goes on and we must go on.”
Sister Silva’s healing ministry is a great source of
strength for many people. “But there are more and
more sick and suffering people,” she said in Spanish,
Sister Esther Silva, MDPVM, comforts a resi-
dent of Retama Manor Nursing Center in
and, at present, too few people who help.
Lent is a good time for us to examine our lives and
discern if we are called to this type of healing
ministry, said Holy Spirit Sister Marguerite Con-
She said she sees Sister Silva’s work as a form of
evangelization. “When you bring God to other peo-
ple, you evangelize others as Well as yourself.”
For / was hungry and you
gave me food, / was thirsty
and you gave me drink.
I was a stranger and you
welcomed me, naked and you
clothed me. I was ill and
you comforted me, in prison
and you came to visit me...
I assure you, as often as you
did it for one of my least
brothers, you did it for me.
(Matthew 25:35-36, 40)
For this reason, she encourages people who would
like to help others on a parish level to contact their
parish priest or Msgr. Richard Shirley, episcopal
vicar for the Office of Evangelization and Parish
Renewal. To receive training and develop their
skills, people can take courses in the Pastoral In-
stitute for Ministry and Christian Service, which
Sister Connors directs.
Robstown, one of the many places she visits.
(Kim Christensen-Bergstrom photo)
She added that she hopes the needs of the sick and
suffering will surface during the process for the
Diocesan Synod, which has 17 subcommittees ad-
dressing different aspects of church life. Sister Con-
nors is chairman of the Evangelization Subcommit-
tee for the synod, which will work in conjunction with
the Office of Evangelization.
Easter Sunrise Service
rehearsals begin March 8
First Youth Conference
to be held March 14
Charles Herzig ordained
first bishop of Tyler
Here’s what’s next.
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Freeman, Robert E. South Texas Catholic (Corpus Christi, Tex.), Vol. 22, No. 10, Ed. 1 Friday, March 6, 1987, newspaper, March 6, 1987; Corpus Christi, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth840588/m1/1/: accessed August 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; .