Editor’s note: Rather than an official order, the sisters are now a “Public Association of the Faithful”, in contrast to their former status as a “Private Association of the Faithful”.
“Can I call you back?” Mother Magda asks. “I have clients in our house right now.”
This is a typical request from the superior of the Sisters of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Joseph: service comes first, media attention later. But even if they seek no accolades, they still have earned them, because Mother Magda and her sisters have at last been recognized as an official Diocesan order.
The Sisters of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Joseph (OLOG Sisters) were first established in the Diocese of Gallup in 1976 under the invitation of Bishop Jerome Hastrich. But the establishment of a “Public Association of the Faithful” requires official consultation with the Holy See, according to Canon Law and The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. The process can take years, but within the last twelve months, much of the final paperwork and outreach to Rome was spearheaded by Bishop Wall. The order received canonical approval this year, and the Diocese held a celebration Mass on August 11 at Sacred Heart Cathedral. After the homily, the sisters of the order renewed their vows in front of the Bishop.
Most mornings, the sisters can be found working as advocates for immigrants and naturalized citizens; three of them are officially accredited with the Board of Immigration Appeals. For newly-arrived immigrants from Central and South American countries, the Sisters’ translation and legal skills are a literal God-send. Their new canonical status now allows them to accept new applicants and grow their numbers.
“The most important thing for a religious, like me, is the great joy of being a spouse of Christ,” Mother Magda said. “You want to tell the girls also that it’s wonderful to be a spouse of Christ and serve the people of our lord, but the girls need to know that you’re approved officially by the Church.”
Several of the sisters teach locally in Gallup – the navy-and-white habit is a common sight around school halls. For many years, the order has also run an intimate chapel of Perpetual Adoration, attached to their modest home.
But even with all the recent changes for the sisters – a new convent on the way, a recent anniversary of 40 years of service, and now, official recognition – their purpose remains the same, day in and day out.
“We serve the poor, whoever comes.”