National Catholic Sisters Week (NCSW) is an annual celebration taking place from March 8 - 14, 2016 to honor women religious and to raise awareness of women vocations as an option for young women today. In that spirit, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston is proud to celebrate and introduce the women religious who work with us to help realize our mission of providing a path to self-sufficiency for the poor and working poor of Eastern Massachusetts. The first sister we wish to honor is one many generations of Catholic Charities’ families from lower Roxbury, the South End and Dorchester know well, Sr. Esther Garcia.
Sister Esther Garcia is of the Franciscan Sisters of the Atonement. Her religious community serves the poor and strives to empower those who are neglected or oppressed. In September 2016, Sr. Esther celebrates a major milestone in her life, her Golden Jubilee or 50 year anniversary as a sister. On behalf of everyone at Catholic Charities and the people we serve, we say thank you for your service, your love and your care.
Sr. Esther’s career in childcare with Catholic Charities began in 1979 at Emmanuel House, serving lower Roxbury and the South End of Boston. She continued her service when we moved our childcare center to its current location in 2006 to the Yawkey Center, Haitian Multi-Service Center on Columbia Road in Dorchester. Today, Sr. Esther’s job title is Program Director of Childcare, but to the parents and children she sees every day, she is much more.
Nothing Short of Amazing
Sr. Esther works hard to make sure the children in her care know each day that they are loved and accepted for who they are, regardless of their culture, color or religion. Sr. Esther stated, “Children are the core of our future. The amazement and wonder on their faces when they discover something new—that’s what’s important to me.”
Creating a safe, structured and consistent environment, regardless of what’s happening outside of Yawkey Center’s doors, also shapes the children’s success. Sr. Esther often tells ‘her children’: “no matter what happens out there, we will protect you in here.” Despite her petite stature of less than five feet, the children in Sr. Esther’s care believe that she is nothing short of amazing. Her reward is in the smiles of the children Sr. Esther says, not to mention the tremendous individual growth and learning of her students.
Hearing the Call
Growing up in a close-knit family, Sr. Esther had a very special and close relationship with her grandmother; they spent much time together and often accompanied each other to church. Sr. Esther remembers her grandmother saying that she thought someone in the family would choose the religious life, but no one ever thought it would be Esther, especially Esther! That is, until her parish priest suggested she explore the possibility. She hesitated for a long time and prayed for a long time before even considering it, and then one day, she decided to investigate. Shortly thereafter, she discovered the community of the Franciscan Sisters of Atonement—the community that fit her best.
During the early years of her sisterhood, her father asked if she ever regretted not having a family of her own. She responded by sending him pictures of her students telling him, “these are my children; these are your grandchildren.” Sr. Esther and her family have never looked back and for this, our Catholic Charities family is grateful.
In closing, Sr. Esther shared with us some wisdom her grandmother shared that she lives by daily, “don’t live for tomorrow, live for today.” Here’s to today Sr. Esther!