April 8, 2016, Houston, Texas – Sister Maureen O’Connell, OP, founder and director of Angela House, has been named a Houston Hero for her dedication to helping women who had been imprisoned to turn their lives around. She founded Angela House in 2001 as a residential program to offer women the treatment, education, and support they need to leave behind prison life – and the behaviors that led to their imprisonment – and to transition successfully into life in the greater community. Read the Houston Chronicle article by Allison Bagley.
Sister Maureen has also been cited in two of the National Catholic Reporter’s Global Sisters Report articles, part of a series on the U.S. criminal justice system and the ministry of U.S. Catholic Sisters with current and former prisoners. The article on the “caste system” that former offenders face details the many programs that Angela House offers to prepare the women for employment and a new life in society. In an article on the changes in the prison system, Sister Maureen speaks of the need for prisons to include a “release program” that would help prisoners prepare for their release months in advance.
April 6, 2016, San Fernando, Pampanga, the Philippines – Sisters Salvacion (Salve) B. Valenzuela, OP, and Alma D. Zapanta, OP, professed their perpetual vows April 3 during a special Liturgy at the chapel of Our Lady of Good Counsel Seminary, on the same grounds as the Chapter House in San Fernando, Pampanga, the Philippines.
Sisters Salve and Alma are members of the Adrian Dominican Sisters’ Our Lady of Remedies Mission Chapter. They had both entered the Dominican Congregation of Our Lady of Remedies before that Congregation merged with the Adrian Dominican Sisters in November 2011.
Attending the joyous event were Sister Zenaida S. Nacpil, OP, Chapter Prioress of Our Lady of Remedies; Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP, Formation Director for the Adrian Dominican Sisters; Sisters from the Chapter; and family members and friends.
Sister Salve is the oldest of three siblings, who include her sister Ilyn and her brother Joel. She attended South Villazar Elementary School in Sipcot, Camarines Sur, and graduate in 1997 from her high school, Bicol Institute of Science and Technology.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of the Assumption in San Fernando.
Sister Salve entered the Our Lady of Remedies Congregation in 2007 and professed her first vows on September 18, 2010. While preparing for her final vows, she ministered at Mother of Good Counsel Center for Abused Children/Women. She is also analyzing data for her thesis for her master’s degree in educational management from University of the Assumption.
Sister Salve’s past ministries have included serving as canteen manager at Holy Rosary Academy in Lubao, 2010-2011; teaching preschool at Dominican School of Angeles City, 2011-2012; teaching at Dominican School of Apalit, 2012-2013; serving as a canteen worker at Holy Rosary Academy, Lubao and as assistant administrator/teacher at Holy Trinity Special Education Foundation, 2013-2014; and teaching part-time while working at the treasurer’s office at Dominican School of Angeles City, 2014-2015.
Making her perpetual profession of vows means “to love and serve selflessly now and forever,” Sister Salve said. “My final vows are a manifestation of God’s mercy and compassion.”
The fifth of seven children, Sister Alma was born in San Carlos, San Luis, in Pampanga. She attended San Carlos Elementary School and, in 2000, graduated from San Carlos High School, both in her native San Luis.
While preparing for her final vows, Sister Alma ministered part-time as canteen coordinator at Holy Rosary Academy, Lubao. She graduated from high school in 2000, entered the Our Lady of Remedies Congregation in June 2006, and professed her first vows on April 24, 2010.
Since entering religious life, Sister Alma has ministered in a variety of ways: as a catechist in San Fernando from 2006 to 2008; as secretary for the Office of the Archbishop, 2009; as assistant canteen worker at University of the Assumption, 2010; as a student from 2010 to 2013 at University of the Assumption, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in education; as pastoral worker at the Diocese of San Jose, Nueva Ecija, 2013-2014; and as pastoral worker and head of the Formation Desk at Holy Rosary Parish, Angeles City, 2014-2015.
The vowed life is a “covenant with God,” Sister Alma said. “It is a commitment to serve God and the people of God with joy. My yes to God is always now and forever.”
Featured photo: Sisters Salvacion (Salve) B. Valenzuela, OP, left, and Alma D. Zapanta, OP, professed their final vows on April 3.