Sister Esther Pineda to minister in El Paso

October 24, 2014 by

By Doug Weller
The Register of the Salina Diocese

Sister Esther Pineda

Sister Esther Pineda

Sister Esther Pineda is leaving as director of the Office of Hispanic Ministry for the Diocese of Salina to assume a new role for her congregation.

She will leave at the end of October to move to El Paso, Texas, to oversee activities and programs at the convent of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Concordia. The 10-bedroom house most recently has been used to house volunteers coming to El Paso to help with the influx of children migrating from Central America to the United States.

The sister who was operating the house became ill and returned to Concordia, and the congregation then had to decide if the house should continue to be made available and, if so, who could assume those duties.

“The call to the religious life is a call to be available when there is a necessity to which one can respond, to which one can become available to answer,” she said. “That has brought me to leave the diocese a little ahead of schedule.”

She had planned to retire from the diocese next summer after turning 75 but expected to continue working in the congregation’s Justice and Peace office in Salina, where she currently also works part time. She said she will continue to do that work from El Paso.

Because Spanish is her native language and she previously had ministered in El Paso, she said she felt she was the logical choice.

A native of New Mexico, she joined the Sisters of St. Joseph in 1972 and served in ministries in Texas, New Mexico and Nebraska, as well as Washington, D.C.

She briefly was the diocese’s director of Hispanic ministry in 2007, then returned to the job in July 2013.

Sister Esther said the congregation decided it was important to maintain the house and their presence in El Paso. The house is the remaining legacy of the congregation’s hospital ministry there; the building housed sisters who were nurses.

Although the influx of children coming alone to the United States from Central America has slowed, immigration continues to be a key issue, she said.

How the convent in El Paso is utilized down the road remains to be seen, she said.

“There are a lot of religious communities in El Paso, but not many have such a large building. A dream of mine is to have an inter-congregational community living there,” Sister Esther said.

She and her congregation will spend the next year determining whether they will continue to utilize the property and in what fashion.

“It’s at least a year’s assignment,” she said. “I will do whatever I am called to do and try to respond.”

She said people are invited to correspond with her in El Paso. Her address after Dec. 1 will be 1837 Grandview Ave., El Paso TX 79902-5111.


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