By Sr. Zoe Brenner, SBS
Each year the Diocese of Gallup celebrates members of religious communities who have reached special milestones and anniversaries in their years of service. On Saturday, February 1st, 2020, Bishop James Wall celebrated a special Mass for Mother Magda of the Sisters of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Joseph and for Sr. Agnesa Maria of the Missionaries of Charity.
Mother Magda, 60 Years
Mother Magda, HNSG, is celebrating 60 years of profession as a religious sister. She was born August 28, 1939. Her parents were professors and owners of Academia Robertson in Guadalajara-Jalisco, Mexico.
Mother Magda has five sisters and four brothers. They were brought up and educated as Christian Evangelicals. When Mother was 18, one of her sisters and two of her brothers became Catholics. By the time Mother Magda was 19 she too had joined the Catholic Church. She was engaged to be married. But she was inspired by the Holy Spirit instead to become a religious.
She got a sign from St. Joseph about what she needed to do, and joined the Poor Clare Missionaries. She had no idea what she was getting herself into but continued in the way she was being led. She was professed in this community and became a regional superior. But Mother Magda’s journey was not over.
In 1976 Mother Magda had a desire within herself to serve the people most in need. This desire eventually brought her to the city of Gallup and Bishop Jerome Hastrich. It was at this time that she founded the Sisters of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Joseph.
Mother Magda became the leader of this community. Some of her achievements are the 1984 opening of the Casa Reina Chapel of Perpetual Adoration – a chapel opened to all in the community as a place to pray, opening immigration services for the needs of any immigrant, and opening Villa Infantil de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe y San Jose in Mexico. This is for children who have been abandoned, mistreated or abused. The Sisters give love and care to the children. The children are given a Catholic Education. This gives the children an opportunity to have a future in life and society.
Mother Magda has also ministered in Gamerco with Hispanic Ministry, been an Administrative Assistant at Sacred Heart High School, taught Religious Education in San Mateo and Milan, NM, and helped form leadership at St. Francis parish in Gallup. She and her sisters helped to ensure the continuation of St. Francis School.
Mother Magda herself and the Community she founded continue to serve the poor here in Gallup and in Mexico.
She celebrates 43 years of being in Gallup ministering with her Sisters. She is grateful for all bishops and people, those who have and continue to support her and her community.
Sister Agnesa Maria, 25 Years
She was born in the town of Behorpore, India (pronounced “Baranpoor”), and later joined the Missionaries of Charity. She came to Gallup at the end of September, 2019. Her present ministry is service to the poorest of the poor in Gallup – cooking a good, hot meal for them and giving shelter to them for the night. The sisters preach the Gospel to them and then pray with them the beautiful prayers of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy before the meal, even if they are drunk.
Before this mission, she was in Los Angeles, CA and Denver. In Los Angeles she ministered to ladies, unwed mothers and taught catechism to children in a school. This was a street ministry. The Sisters cooked food and took it to the street people. In Denver she served in prison ministry to over 1,500 inmates. She used to pray with the inmates, read the Word of God to them and bring Holy Communion for them to receive.
She tells her vocation story in her own words: “I joined the Missionaries of Charity at the Mother House in Calcutta. My older sister was a sister in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Congregation and my uncle was a Salesian priest, and I would see them so happy serving the people. I really, really wanted to be a nun, but my mother did not want me to enter at such a young age of 18.
“So one day I told my mother that I was going to spend a week with my auntie; my brother would take me. But really I was escaping my house and asked my brother to take me about 3 hours away by car to the Missionaries. Mother Teresa herself had come to our parish and I was in the youth group and she had given us some talks.
“Then Mother Teresa gave me permission to return home for a while if my mom promised to send me back. After one week, my mother asked my brother, ‘Where is she?’ because she had called my auntie, and my auntie had said, ‘She’s not here.’ And my mother asked my brother, ‘Where’s my daughter?’ He said, ‘She’s in Mother Teresa’s convent in Calcutta.’ My mother said, ‘You take me now: I’ll bring her back!’
“She went to the Mother House and met Mother Teresa at the door and asked ‘Where is my daughter?’ Mother took her straight to the chapel and told her to kneel and pray a while. My mother came out after a few minutes and Mother Teresa gave her a big hug and told her ,’Thank you for giving your daughter to Jesus.’ But my mother was saying ‘No! No! No!” Mother Teresa told her, ‘Jesus has called her. You will not ever be able to make her happy if she stays with you. God has called her. Then my mother understood and became calm, and said, ‘OK.’
“So I stayed home for 6 months and entered the Missionaries of Charity in January of 1991. I made my First Vows in 1994. I’m very grateful to God to be a spouse of Jesus Christ and be His missionary to work in His vineyard and always I’m happy wherever I am.”