Friday, June 21, 2024
Concordia Sisters of St. Joseph

Concordia Sisters of St. Joseph

Loving God and neighbor without distinction: A pontifical institute of women religious of the Roman Catholic Church

Ora Rede, CSJ Associate

Silver City, N.M.

Ora and Catarino Rede’s story of how they retired in Silver City is one that tourism departments delight in!

“We had taken a vacation to the East coast,” says Ora. “We lived in California and were returning through Las Cruces, N.M. I saw a billboard that said, ‘Retire in Silver City, New Mexico. Four gentle seasons.’ I did not say anything but when I saw a second billboard saying the same thing, I commented to my husband. We stopped in Silver, went to the Chamber of Commerce and got a whole bag of literature. We were looking for a place to retire. The town sounded nice. After we got home we did some more checking on the town, then within four weeks we flew back and found a home. That was in 1988. We have been here even since. The people are beautiful, we love our St. Francis Parish, and enjoy the four gentle seasons.”

Oralia is her given name and she deeply appreciates it, but  most people do not pronounce it correctly so she goes by Ora. She was born outside of San Antonio, Texas. Both sets of grandparents emigrated from Mexico during the Mexican Revolution in 1910. She was the only girl among her six brothers but she fondly remembers that her brothers “were very good to her.”

She moved to California in her 20s where she became a registered nurse. She worked at a Catholic hospital, Providence Hospital in Hercules, just outside of Oakland. In Silver City she worked in the emergency room and surgery departments at the local hospital before she retired nine years ago.

Community involvement Ora says with a laugh, “Now that I am retired, I am working harder than when I was working!”

She tutors in both English and Spanish with a program called Literacy Link Leamos (Let us read.) It is for
both children and adults who want to improve literacy in either language.

Ora’s first language is Spanish. She learned English from her brothers who learned it when they went to school. Even though her parents knew English, they spoke Spanish at home. She found that she used Spanish often in her work at the hospital. “There was always a need for a translator,” she explained. “I was grateful I could help explain procedures and treatments to people who, coupled with their pain or fear, were not understanding what was happening.”

Even though she spoke Spanish, Ora enrolled in Spanish classes at Western New Mexico University in Silver City to learn more of the grammar and written language. Today she is considered quite proficient in both languages.

She uses her nursing skills with SWORD, Southwest Outreach for Diabetes. “Lots of people in this part of the country and many Hispanics have diabetes. Much of it is due to poor diet and lack of exercise, although some have a family history. I plan health fairs and serve on committees to help educate people about the disease.”

Both she and her husband are involved with LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) and Knights of Columbus (K of C) because of their work with scholarships. “LULAC has been around since 1929. One of the many things they do is encourage young people to stay in school. With Western New Mexico University right here, that is so valuable. We help with the K of C concession stands which earmarks proceeds for scholarships.”

While she is involved in much service work, she and Catarino also take time for leisure. They belong to a camping group. (Ora is president of the group.) They try to go camping together once a month on a designated weekend.

“It is so relaxing! We play games, eat, socialize, and go for hikes. It is just delightful! Games are a good way for seniors to keep their minds active and to keep alert. We play games that are not found in stores such as Social Security Special and Back Three. We also enjoy dominoes and card games.”

In addition to camping, the group itself does community service work. They participate in picking up the trash and cleaning the highway.

Meeting the Sisters of St. Joseph
When they moved to Silver, her husband came before she did and visited all the churches. (She was still working.) He found St. Francis Parish. One of their neighbors helped Sister Neria Gross when she took communion to the sick. When the neighbor was no longer able to do it, she asked Ora if she would be willing to help Sister Neria. “It was awesome. I received a lot of energy from just being near her and serving her. She taught me so much about not judging people. I enjoyed being with her. When she got sick, I was working at the hospital. She needed to be air ambulanced to Concordia and they had to have a nurse accompany her. I went to my supervisor and told her I wanted to go and that I did not want to be paid for it. I was so glad to be able to do that for her.” Sister Neria passed away April 18, 1994 in Concordia.

Sister Anna Marie Broxterman, also on the flight when Sister Neria returned to Concordia, remembers Ora well. “Ora, ever compassionate, was both a comfort and a skilled professional on our air ambulance journey from Silver City to Concordia. Ora became the living word of Scripture: ‘The measure you measure with will be measured back to you.’ Sister Neria had no measure, excepting to spread God’s abundant love, as she served the people in Silver City. Ora had done the same for S. Neria.”

Ora says, “I met Sister Rosie (Farrell) through Neria. She had invited me to be part of the choir which I did. Then she asked me to consider becoming a CSJ Associate. Rosie said, ‘You really have been part of our community all this time so why not be an Associate.’ So I did. My husband does not come to the Associate meetings because he is shy and more private than I am. Yet, he is happy for me.”

Sister Rosie greatly admires Ora. “I have been impressed with Ora’s warm, caring presence to those she works with in her various ministries here in Silver City. She has a real commitment to people who are vulnerable and disenfranchised. She show reverence and respect to them. She is a woman of genuine sensitivity and compassion for people. I have known her in various capacities. She has been a gift to our Saturday evening choir. She has served in ministry to the homebound and sick in our parish. As a member of the Associates she has shared her deep spirituality with the group and we have all been richly blessed because of it.”

Service trip
Along with CSJ Associates Dave and Lynette Brown and Dave and Jamie Schwantes, Ora and her husband have built homes in Juarez for Casa por Christo (Homes for Christ). “I was able to use my Spanish again and translate between the Mexican and American people. That was a profound experience. I was so touched by one elderly woman’s faith who said, ‘I knew before I died that God would give me a little home.’ Another said, ‘You people came from another country and have done more to help me than my own people are able to do.’ We worked so hard but it was so rewarding. Once we crossed the border at El Paso back in to the U.S. one of the men with us said, ‘We really do live like kings and queens in this country and are not aware of it.’ It makes me grateful for all that I have, including my good health, education, intelligence, and so many things we can often take for granted.”

Ora has been a gift to the Sisters of St. Joseph and all those around her in many ways. Her zeal for life and willingness to share her knowledge and her time is an inspiration to many.

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