Sister Onellys Villegas

Sister Onellys was born and raised in Venezuela, the middle child of nine siblings. She was somewhat of a rebellious teenager, taking issue with the school Sisters over the length of her uniform skirt. But, she took religion seriously and was a youth leader and teacher. She also met and worked with Mission Helper Sisters during her teen years.

In 1976 she joined the Mission Helpers of the Sacred Heart and came to the United States. Her ministries have taken her to Texas, Puerto Rico, New York, Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC.

In Washington she worked part-time as an addiction counselor at La Clinica Pueblo, a community health clinic for poor Hispanics, and commuted to Loyola University Maryland in Baltimore where she worked toward her Pastoral Counseling degree.

Degree in hand, Sr. Onellys was looking for a full-time job and heard about an opening for a bilingual counselor at the House of Ruth Family Safety and Support Center in Beltsville, Maryland. “When I went to the mailbox to send off my resume, I just knew that this was going to be it,” she recalls. “From the beginning, I knew that this was where I belonged.”

And it is where she is today, as a Counselor in the Mental Health Counseling and Outreach program at House of Ruth. She works primarily with Hispanic women who have been abused. “Unfortunately, I get more referrals than any other counselor,” she says. “Sometimes I see as many as 30 people a week. That’s too many, but I can’t turn them away.”

“I have been blessed by the trust these women have placed in me,” she says. “They have inspired me by their courage in telling their stories. These sacred moments of shared human feelings have moved me and transformed me.”

She was elected an Advisor in the Field for the Mission Helpers in 2016.