Maria Conception (Conchita) Nubla was born in Manila, the Republic of the Philippines, January 10, 1936 to Lourdes (Limgenco) and Dr. Marcelo Nubla. She had 4 sisters: Maria, Terry, Pilar and Gloria (Sr. Helena, RGS) and 3 brothers: Jesse, Michael and William. She graduated from St. Paul’s High School in Manila in 1953. She attended both Holy Ghost College and Maryknoll College in the Philippines from 1954 to 1960.
Maria Conception (Conchita) Nubla entered the Maryknoll Sisters at the Sisters Center, NY September 2, 1960. She professed First Vows June 24, 1963 in Topsfield, MA and Final Vows June 24, 1969 in the Philippines. At the time of her First Profession, she received the name Sister Joseph Lourdes.
In 1964, Sister Joseph Lourdes was assigned to the Hong Kong-Taiwan Region. After language study in both Taiwan and Hong Kong, Sister Joseph Lourdes served in Our Lady of Maryknoll Hospital (Hong Kong) as supervisor of the purchasing department and director of the fund-raising department. She also served as part-time secretary for Archbishop Dominic Tang, S.J. and as secretary for the PIME Fathers.
Sister Joseph Lourdes was a volunteer at the Mission for Migrant Workers, a charitable institution which was established in Hong Kong in 1981 under the auspices of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines. It was formed “to empower migrant workers to promote their rights and welfare and to take charge of their own development.”
Backed by the Anglican, Lutheran, Methodist, and Catholic churches, the Mission dealt with personal and legal cases through “crisis intervention.” Clients included migrant workers in Hong Kong, many of whom were domestic workers who had roots in Sri Lanka, India, Nepal, Indonesia, the Philippines, and other countries. Among the most common problems they faced were physical and sexual abuse, worker status issues, and outright termination without pay or underpayment.
Sister Joseph Lourdes was an official interpreter and translator of statements. She accompanied clients to the immigration and labor departments, court, or to their present and former employer, if necessary. Another duty was to arrange employers for clients and screened both parties. If a client needed housing, they referred to refuge houses.
On free days, the migrant workers gathered in public parks to celebrate their cultural feasts, share food from their own countries, and talk in their own languages, and Sister Joseph Lourdes was there among them. As someone said very well, “The Mission existed to help the migrants in Hong Kong, but the Mission did not shy away from reminding the Philippine government that it had to keep working to make migration for employment unnecessary. In the end, a better life for our workers depended on policies made back home.
Sister Joseph Lourdes retired to the Maryknoll Sisters retirement home in Monrovia, CA June1, 2018.