“The terrible poverty and injustice together with the need to do something to remedy this situation, developed my religious vocation.”
Sister Elsie Monge follows in the footsteps of Jesus accompanying the people in their long struggle for truth and justice in her native Ecuador where she has served for more than 35 years as a missioner. The clear and unadulterated voice of justice is found in her calm and eloquent voice heard on television, radio and newspapers all over Ecuador as she denounced the injustices suffered by the defenseless poor in Ecuador in her role as Director of the Ecumenical Commission for Human Rights.
Sister Elsie said, “The desire to do something for others that I saw in my family had a great influence on me.”
The powerful role models she had were her grandmother, Maria Elvira Campi de Yoder, founder of the Red Cross in Ecuador and her mother, Grace Yoder de Monge, a dedicated social worker among the poor in the city of Guayaquil where she grew up. “The terrible poverty and the desire that I felt, together with the need to try to do something to remedy the situation, developed my religious vocation.” Her research on different mission groups led her to Maryknoll.
Sister Elsie served as President of the Truth Commission that investigated the ugly years of repression in Ecuador from 1984-1988. She was later named to lead the Truth Commission in Honduras. Her work earned her a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 and “Woman of the Year” in Ecuador in 2005.
Sister Elsie entered Maryknoll on September 14, 1954 from the Parish of St. Dominic in Guayaquil, Ecuador. She made her First Profession of Vows on March 7, 1957 at Maryknoll, New York and her Final Vows on March 7, 1963 in Guatemala. She came to Maryknoll with two years of college from Nazareth Junior College in Kentucky and graduated with a Bachelor in Education from Maryknoll Teachers College in 1958.
Sister Elsie was assigned to Central America in 1958 and taught primary grades in both Jacaltenango and Huehuetenango from 1958 – 1963.
Sister Elsie’s next assignment was to Panama in 1964. She taught at the Colegio San Vincente, Santiago Veraguas, Panama. Four years later Sister Elsie was responsible for coordinating a pedagogical team, implementing Paolo Freire’s ideas by radio and was also coordinator for the Central American Region.
In 1981, Sister Elsie was assigned to the Peru/Ecuador Region and became involved with the Ecumenical Human Rights and became the director in 1994.
She has been President of FEDHU – Human Rights National Network in Ecuador since 1996. Her satisfaction is that the people have learned to defend themselves when their rights are abused.