Q&A with Associate Michelle Montez
By Associate Vicki Welsh
How did you first meet the Sisters of Charity of Cincinnati?
“I was working in a local parish here in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as a Lay Ecclesial Minister. One of the ministries that I coordinated was for senior citizens. Each year the neighboring parishes coordinated several events together for seniors, and the coordinators of the other parishes were all Sisters of Charity: Beatrice Hundt, Adele Baca, and Pauline (Lucia Anne) Roney. Their witness and kindness were really inspiring to me and they taught me a great deal about community and ministerial service. I spent three years in discernment with S. Bea and made my commitment as an Associate on Feb. 5, 1995. S. Bea continued to be my Contact Sister for 10 years or so and invited me to seek deeper connections with God, especially through prayer.
“The Associates were great fun! I remember most fondly Evie Baca Kight! I have a particular memory of Evie that occurred during the Associate Convocation, held at the Motherhouse years back. Evie and I were drafted to make a banner for the opening procession. Neither of us was terribly creative, but we had a great time laughing at our mistakes. I think it came out okay! For years afterward, Evie would greet me with a twinkle in her eye, ‘Hey, Michelle, wanna make a banner?’”
Would you share with us more memories from these last 26 years? Perhaps being an Associate has awakened a particular insight.
“My association with the Sisters has been so fruitful! I can say that, largely because they are a uniquely American order. They see relationships and community through those eyes. I have been given the respect, encouragement and confidence to pursue the living out of my vocation as a Lay Ecclesial Minister, with no pressure to pursue a path as a vowed religious. This has given me the freedom to seek ways to live out my Baptismal commitment for service and mission to the Church. I am a lay woman who, in my life and work, seeks to fulfill this commitment every day. I believe this is the essential challenge of the Second Vatican Council imparted to the lay faithful.
“A second insight that I can share is that these Sisters and Associates have given me a powerful example of community! Though our numbers here in Albuquerque have dwindled quite a bit since I first made my commitment, I can say that the bonds of memory and affection are as great as ever. When we come together to pray, reflect, watch a movie or eat, we enjoy the comfort of family. We are each bound, one to the other, by ties of mutuality, respect and kindness. It all flows from our commitment as Associates.”
How has your life as an Associate informed your ministry?
“The Charity Charism colors every aspect of my life. And these friendships through the years have strengthened and challenged me. I have also learned much about how to serve and minister with joy. The Sisters’ heartaches may have been many, but they have loved the vocation they chose. Their service was offered with a reliance on the Spirit and trust in Divine Providence. Over the years, that had been, and still is today, a truly beautiful witness.”