Meet Our Associates – Blasa Rivera
By S. Mary Bodde
Associate Blasa Rivera (left) with Director of Associates Mary Jo Mersmann
Colorado Associate Blasa Rivera, who attended the June Caritas Convocation, remembers her interview in 1973 with S. Jean Patrice Harrington, western provincial, when she applied to become the first Associate (then called Auxiliary) of the Sisters of Charity. This was a brand new program of affiliation with the Sisters of Charity that ‘took off’ in the West. S. Marie Christine Falsetto was her sponsor.
Blasa and three other Associates, Jean Rancoilta, Louise Chorak and Gertrude Brunelli, used to meet frequently for prayer, song and companionship. She was a strong influence in the development of the Western Associates, recalls S. Janice Ernst, who knew Blasa in the West. Now there are 194 Associates across the Congregation, according to Mary Jo Mersmann, director of Associates, and 25 Candidates preparing to join.
The mother of four, two boys and two girls, Blasa was a true immigrant, S. Janice added. “She came to the states at nine months, when her family left Mexico for a better life. Then the family returned when conditions had improved. Blasa married and had her first two children there. The family re-entered when the children were teenagers. They had to return to Mexico for a stated period of time and then re-enter to become U.S. citizens
“For the re-entry Blasa dressed her children as though they were returning from a bullfight in Mexico so they wouldn’t be recognized as immigrants. Her other two children were born in the U.S. Later, as a single mother, Blasa worked in a meat-packing plant to make sure that her children would be well educated.
“Today her oldest has a doctorate in education,” S. Janice continued. “She has a son who has been chief of police in Pueblo, Colo.; a second son is a musician and artist; and the younger daughter is an accountant in New York. The whole family is in the states, and Blasa is very proud of her children.”
At age 89 Blasa lives a busy life in Pueblo. She begins her day with morning prayer; goes to the YMCA daily for water therapy; volunteers for after-school care of her great-grandchildren as they stop to visit her.
Every year, S. Janice added, “The family holds a posada before Christmas, carrying a statue of Mary and Joseph in a red wagon through the neighborhood, asking for hospitality. The older daughter leads the Rosary, connecting the mysteries to their current life, before they return to her home to enjoy their ‘fiesta’ of foods.”
At this, her third trip to the Motherhouse, Blasa said, “I always enjoyed coming here and meeting all the Sisters and Associates.” She felt comfortable responding to the Convocation agenda and stood up to add her comments whenever she had a contribution to make.