“I feel deep gratitude for having been privileged to work in a parish in Ciudad Quetzal, Guatemala where the people know they are the Church, being responsible for the seed of God’s word taking root among us.”
Sister Ramona Oppenheim earned a B.A. in History from St. Mary’s College, Notre Dame before leaving Coldwater, Ohio for Maryknoll in 1951. Assigned to the Philippines in 1955, she spent fourteen years in educational ministry in high schools and in Maryknoll College, Manila. She earned her Masters in History from the Ataneo in Manila.
After language study in Bolivia 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.
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.
Assigned to the Western U.S. Region in 2004, Sister Ramona had been in ministry on the border of California/Mexico. She has recently moved to Maryknoll, NY where she shares her talents and gifts with her Maryknoll Sisters, especially within the Rogers community.