Marking the contributions of Las Hermanas for a new generation

Learn more about the group's history and contributions by reading United in action and prayer: Las Hermanas helped create new way of being 'church'

A symposium this week at University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio focuses on the legacy of Las Hermanas, a grass roots organization for Latina Catholics. The program, “Las Hermanas, the Struggle is One,” will highlight the group’s 44-year history, its impact on Latina Catholics, its role in fighting discrimination in the church and its establishment of mujerista theology.

“The symposium is bringing together scholars and leaders in the field of Latina ecclesiology,” said Adrienne Nock Ambrose, 50, an assistant professor of religious studies at University of the Incarnate Word and one of the organizers of the March 19-21 conference at the university.

“It’s intended to commemorate this movement – Las Hermanas – that formed in the early ‘70s and has continued,” Amrose said, “to make a new generation aware of it, and to see what future opportunities can grow out of bringing together this group of people who have studied it or who have been influenced by it.”

Among the keynote speakers will be Lara Medina, a professor in the Department of Chicano and Chicana Studies at California State Northridge and author of Las Hermanas: Chicana/Latina Religious-Political Activism in the Catholic Church.

“I’ll be speaking on the history of the organization and all the amazing accomplishments they achieved over the years,” Medina said. “But I also want to address the significance of the organization today and how it might renew a level of activism of Latinas in the church.”

Also on the agenda is Sr. Yolanda Tarango, 66, a Sister of Charity of the Incarnate Word and executive director of Visitation House, a non-profit organization that offers education and transitional housing for homeless women and children in San Antonio. 

Rounding out the program will be Timothy Matovina, a professor of theology and the executive director of the Institute for Latino Studies at the University of Notre Dame and Theresa L. Torres, an associate professor in the Latina/Latino Studies Program at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Research papers will look at several topics, including mujerista theology, the liberation theology specific to Catholic Latinas that came from Las Hermanas members, Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz and Tarango.

While the event is free to students, the public can attend for a registration fee of $50. Registration information and a schedule of events can be found here.

[Nuri Vallbona, is a freelance documentary photojournalist who has focused most of her career on social justice projects such as modern-day slavery, inner-city poverty and crime. She worked for the Miami Herald from 1993 to 2008, has won a number of awards and is a former lecturer at the University of Texas and Texas Tech University.]

Learn more about the group's history and contributions by reading
United in action and prayer: Las Hermanas helped create new way of being 'church'