Sr. Marita Rodriguez Segarra – 65 Years
Sister Marita was born in Guayanilla, Puerto Rico, and was living in Ponce in 1953 when she joined the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart.
She says that she was “called to join God’s labor” when she was 12 years old. She spent her first years as a Mission Helper studying to be a teacher of catechetics and teaching religion and has a Master’s Degree in Family Orientation from Lincoln Juarez University in Austin, Texas. (Lincoln Juarez closed in 1991 and became affiliated with Antioch University in Ohio.)
Sister Marita taught religious education in New York and North Carolina; provided family counseling in the Hispanic community in Wilmington, Delaware; and did parish ministry in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico.
In 1988, she moved to Barquisimeto, Venezuela, where she had a ministry of evangelization and teaching. In 1990 she joined Sister Rosa Sofia Toledo in establishing the Mission Helper mission in Manzanita,
Venezuela, a cluster of villages in a remote, underserved and impoverished area in northwest Lara State.
At that time there was no Catholic presence in the area, and the people rarely saw a priest. Today that mission is a thriving parish—Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church—serving as the center of community life.
Sister Marita lives among the villagers ministering among the poor and the sick. “On a typical day,” she says, “I listen to people talk about the problems that are common to their lives in this region. I give counseling, visit people in their homes, cook them meals, sometimes providing the food. I give them what medicines I have, hold wake services, bury the dead and console the relatives. I pray with them. I do what I can do.”