Sister Sandra Ann Silva - 2013 Lumen Christi Award Finalist

Diocese of Monterey, California

Inspiring Hope with Beans and a Bible

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Nestled in California’s Pajaro Valley, Our Lady of the Assumption Church sits between Santa Cruz and Monterey counties. Serving in a large farming community, the church has a steady group of migrant workers in the pews. But one group of people—the Oaxaca—spend most of their time in church trying to be inconspicuous, praying quietly in the back of the church.

That’s because the Oaxaca people are virtually invisible. They speak their own dialect—not Spanish and not English—and are seen as having little value in the Mexican culture.

But not to Sister Sandra Ann Silva. Sister Sandra has helped bring these marginalized people out of the shadows and given them hope while also bringing them back to the faith. With her basket of beans and a Bible, Sister Sandra sought them out in their homes and in the fields, sharing Christ’s love and giving them a voice in the church.

Working through the natural language barrier, Sister Silva brings them back to the faith they were baptized into and helps not only prepare them for—but gives them an understanding of—the sacraments of Eucharist, Reconciliation, Confirmation and Matrimony.

“Sister Sandra’s extensive effort as an individual who builds faith among current and potential parishioners is one to be admired,” said Dr. Rosa Hernandez, Family Advocacy and Education Coordinator of Migrant Education, Region XI-PVUSD. “We as well as our community are blessed with her presence and friendship.”

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