Blasa Rivera: Celebrating Our First Associate in Mission
It was in 1973 that the late S. Jane Grosheider set in motion a conversation that would change the face of the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati. She proposed to begin a relationship with individuals in the Christian Community that would “provide support and encouragement to persons who share our values and vision of life.” On Sept. 5, 1973, in Pueblo, Colorado, Blasa Rivera answered that call becoming the first Associate member of the Sisters of Charity, and with it the relationship officially began.
On Jan. 14, 2020, at the age of 96, Blasa peacefully went home to God. She leaves behind children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and many adoring Sisters and Associates that she built relationships with throughout her 46 years as an Associate of the Sisters of Charity. As word of her death traveled, stories and memories of the joyful, committed Associate began to circulate. “Blasa was truly a ‘family’ person,” recalled S. Noreen Ellison. “Her family was prime in her thoughts, prayers and activities. Her SC family in Pueblo was also very special to her.”
In 2003 Blasa shared her story: “At a time in my life when I was separated from my husband, raising four children alone in Pueblo, Colorado, I felt like I was floating, that I had no anchor in my life. One of my daughters was in the Spanish Club at school, which was moderated by S. Christine Falsetto. The club was having a fundraiser and my daughter volunteered me to make tamales. Sister and I bonded through music. But she also had a strong spiritual life. I no longer felt alone….”
The path was not always easy. She said in an interview that some Sisters were not always accepting of Associates. As the program expanded, however, and more Associates committed themselves to the Community, those feelings changed. Blasa treasured her relationships with the Sisters, particularly Sisters Christine and Emily Anne Phelan. “Both women live/d a faith-filled life and were/are examples of patience, forgiveness and working with the downtrodden. Both women have changed me,” she said.
“Blasa was always so proud of being the first Associate for the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati,” remembered former Director of Associates Mary Jo Mersmann. “She valued this relationship with the Charity Family as a priority in her life and participated in meetings and activities for more than 40 years. What a wonderful role model she was for all of us as she embodied the Charity charism and values! We as a Charity community were so fortunate to have her wisdom and her kindness shared with us regularly and for such a long period of time.”
Mary Jo does remember a particular story of Blasa – one that she can now look back on and laugh. “It was the first evening of the Associate Convocation, and Associates and Sisters were flying in from all over the U.S.,” she recalled. “The chapel was filled with participants greeting one another and chatting loudly.
“It was about 10 minutes before I was to welcome everyone when I got a phone call from the airport saying we lost Blasa! She didn’t arrive on the flight we had been given. At this time, Blasa was in her 80s and traveling alone. My heart went into my throat. How can I welcome everyone not knowing where our beloved first Associate is?
“After several phone calls to her family and minutes of sheer panic, we found out that Blasa’s flight number and time of arrival had changed and we hadn’t been notified. What seemed like hours (but only minutes) later, Blasa arrived safely at CVG unaware of all of the commotion. She arrived in the chapel to a round of applause and tears of joy!”
Blasa treasured the spiritual support she found through Association. Her journey brought her humbleness, patience and total dependence on God. In 2013, when the opportunity arose, Blasa made her Lifetime Commitment as an Associate. She reaffirmed her commitment saying, “Am I glad I am a part of the Sisters of Charity? With all my heart.”