Sister Esther Pineda

BIRTH NAME:  Esther Pineda
PARENTS: Pablo Pineda and Isidora Salaiz Pineda
HOMETOWN: Bayard, N.M.
BA in education, Western New Mexico University, Silver City; MA in physical education,  University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; MA religion & religious education, Fordham University, New York
1974-75: teaching physical education, Fairbury, Neb.
1976    Campus ministry, St. Francis Newman Center, Silver City, N.M.
1981    Religious education coordinator, Our Lady of Fatima Parish, Bayard, N.M.
1982    Congregation’s director of postulants, in Concordia and El Paso, Texas
1991-99    Regional coordinator & vice president, congregational Leadership Council
1999-2001   Program and services department of Catholic Charities USA, Alexandria, Va.
2001-06    Lobbyist and advocate with NETWORK, Washington, D.C.
2006-present    Coordinator, Justice & Peace Center, Salina

As you look back on your years as a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia, what experience or event best captures what your religious life has meant to you (and why)?

There are many experiences and events that capture the meaning of religious life for me. But the one most dominant is what I call “the adventure of ministry.” I am what they call a “belated” vocation; I entered at the age of 32.  I was a physical education teacher in a public school and I suspect I would have retired as a physical ed teacher. But in religious life I have had the gift of teaching expressed in myriad ways.

For example, I began teaching physical education in Fairbury, Neb. Then I went into campus ministry where the call to teach and listen took a different form. Later, I became a religious education coordinator in a small Spanish-speaking southwest parish, and I’ve taught Spanish to English-speaking adults. I found myself teaching in an adult faith-formation program through ITV. Eventually I ended up on our congregational Leadership team.

From there, I went to the national office of Catholic Charities USA. In that capacity, I worked with adults in programs and services expressed through a national media.
From there I moved to to advocacy/ lobbying, working in Washington, D.C., with the Catholic social justice organization NETWORK — and NEVER, NEVER would I have imagined doing that!

I was drawn into this ministry of advocacy by a dear sister friend whose passion for the work of justice led me, drew me … like a magnet, to be a part of that world.

Ultimately, the call to be with and for the dear neighbor in whatever capacity or situation is what best describes religious life for me. It is responding to the need and then wondering,  “What in the world am I doing here?” Yet deep down at the same time realizing that it’s not me but God’s strength and gifts that see me through, sustain me and bring me fulfillment.

I am so grateful to be a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia.

One thought on “Sister Esther Pineda

  • October 28, 2013 at 7:24 pm

    Congratulations dear Esther! Wow, where have the years gone. I always knew you were a lifer. I’m so blessed to have shared a small portion of time with you throughout the years. Thanks for saying yes to the call.

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