Maura McCarthy is a member of the Sisters of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Dubuque, Iowa. After studies in English literature and education, she taught in Iowa and Minnesota, studied library science and was a missionary to Bolivia for 33 years (broken only by a brief hiatus to teach at Our Lady of Guadalupe School in south Chicago while doing graduate school in history). She and another Presentation Sister started the mission in Bolivia, involving religious education, a vocational school, and services to catechists and health promoters with an outreach to over 100 rural communities. They worked with the International Guaraní Solidarity Team, in communal and family agricultural projects, schools and health posts, building projects, handicrafts and human rights work with the people. She is preparing to retire from La Luz Hispana in Hampton, Iowa — a welcoming, education and service center for Spanish-speaking newcomers — to do research on the early history of the Guaraní missions and families in Bolivia, in the area of Tarija where she ministered.
When a beloved Guaraní woman from a town near our mission home in Timboy, Bolivia, became gravely ill, we accompanied her family through their agonizing worries and unceasing prayers for healing.
I came to the Guaraní area 20 years ago to accompanying this struggling people under the control of the patróns, the landlords who had taken over the land during Bolivia's many dictatorships. Today, their organizing has come to a beautiful fruition.