Friday, December 20, 2013

Virgin of El Cobre Today

Despite the persecution of the Catholic Church by the government of Cuba under Castro and the recent influx of evangelical and Pentecostal Christian missionaries, the Cuban people are estimated to be 32% Roman Catholic. The folk religions practiced by 17% of Cubans are the native Taíno religion and Santería, a blend of West African slave religion, Taíno and Catholicism.  “It is as if in the case of the Virgin of El Cobre, slaves wrote themselves—and were allowed to write themselves—into a popular kind of mainstream story, one that would eventually be rewritten and remembered as a foundational story of the Cuban nation.” 

The Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine de' Ricci still serve in a variety of social justice ministries.  The Congregation became members of the Dominican Sisters of Peace at a ceremony in 2012.  They are are now headquartered in Upper Darby, PA and have 60 vowed sisters and 64 lay associates.  

Sister Carmen Rose Álvarez, O.P., had been imprisoned during the Castro regime and was forced to flee in 1962. She met the Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine de’ Ricci at a refugee center in Miami, where she was volunteering, and was invited to join them. She later ministered as director of Hispanic ministry at St. Hugh Parish in Coconut Grove, where she met the Adrian Dominican Sisters; as coordinator of religious education at St. Helen Parish in Fort Lauderdale; and again as director of Hispanic ministry at St. Joan of Arc Parish in Boca Raton.