Sister Ramona Oppenheim

Current Ministry Location: Maryknoll Sisters Center-Maryknoll, NY

Ramona Oppenheim was born April 28, 1929 in Lima, Ohio to Anna (Mathias) and Theodore H. Oppenheim. She had 3 brothers: Dr. Walter, Rev. Frank, SJ, and Vincent and 3 sisters: Marita, Virginia, and Rose Marie. Ramona graduated from Coldwater Public High School in Coldwater in 1946. In 1950 she earned a BA in History from St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame, IN.

Ramona entered Maryknoll at the Novitiate in Valley Park, MO February 1,1951. She professed First Vows March 7, 1954 at Valley Park and Final Vows March 7, 1960 in the Philippines. Assigned to the Philippines in 1955, she began studying immediately and earned her Master’s in History from the Ateneo de Manila in 1959. She spent fourteen years in the educational ministry in high schools and in Maryknoll College, Manila.

In 1973 Sister Ramona was assigned to Guatemala with Language study in Bolivia. After language study in 1975, Sister Ramona continued her mission journey to Guatemala. She worked with public school teachers in Huehuetenango to extend religious education. She went from these mountains to the jungle area of the Peten and was part of a three Sister traveling team working with women, raising consciousness of their dignity and equality; giving courses in leadership, health, and basic evangelization. The Sisters gave the women a safe space, encouraging sharing of ideas and concerns, mourning for family members killed in the violence in the country.

Sister Ramona was welcomed into a parish team in the bi-cultural parish of Ciudad Quetzal, San Juan Sacatepequez, populated by Kaqchiqel Indians and ladino immigrants fleeing from conflictive areas in the interior. In her sixteen years, the parish grew from 15,000 to 95,0000. She accompanied Basic Ecclesial Communities, women’s groups and community coordination. All was centered on Church as community and Jesus’ values of participation, sharing and equality were emphasized. Sister Ramona assisted in the inter-diocesan Historical Memory Recovery project, providing an atmosphere of faith and trust in which horrifying experiences could be shared. Later these testimonies were analyzed and responsibilities clarified.

She relocated to the Maryknoll Sisters Center, Maryknoll, NY where she was assigned to Physical Plant to organize our Center blueprints.

After leaving Physical Plant, Ramona asked to minister in a Spanish speaking parish in the US. She was accepted in the US Western Region in 2004 to work in San Ysidro, a Mexican-American border town with San Diego. After three years, Sister Ramona retired to the Maryknoll Sisters Center-Maryknoll, NY.