Sr. Maria de Guadalupe Diaz grew up in Puerto Rico. As a young girl, she was attending public school but dropped out during ninth grade. Her goal was to take a course in housekeeping that was offered for young women who wanted to work in the U.S. “I finished the course,” Guadalupe recalled, “but I was not happy about coming to the States.” Her friends Roberto and Enrique encouraged her to go to the Academia Monsegnor Willinger and accompanied her to meet Sr. Joseph Helene. That meeting not only led to Sr. Guadalupe becoming a 10th grade student at the academy but also led to a realization that she was being called to become one of the sisters.
Sr. Guadalupe’s gifts are many and during her years in the congregation she has served in education on various levels, parish ministry, and in vocations on both east and west coasts as well as in her native Puerto Rico. But wherever she has been, there is one often “unofficial” gift that has also proven to be a gift to the sisters with whom she lives—she is an excellent seamstress! “Sewing has been part of my life since I was a child,” she explained. She recalled her mother’s work in a sewing factory and the nightgowns she worked on at home.” “The ladies in the neighborhood embroidered them and my mother did the machine sewing,” she explained. “We children helped sew the straight seams and bands.” She learned more in her home economic classes and was encouraged to “use anything around the house to make something beautiful or useful.”
When Sr. Guadalupe was 18, she left school to help get her younger siblings through school. She found a job in a sewing factory in New York—thanks to a family friend. There she perfected her sewing skills. Through all of this, she was still sure that God was calling her to religious life. She eventually entered the congregation and spent her novitiate in Portland. She recalled Mother Everilda asking her to make a set of gowns for the sisters being invested. “The end results were beautiful,” she recalled. That, however, was not the highlight of her sewing experience. In 1954 she was asked to make a complete set of vestments for the motherhouse—white with gold lining. “At the end of this project, I thought I had reached the Ph.D. in sewing!” she laughed. “Since then at every convent where I’ve been, a sewing machine has been waiting for me.”
That is definitely true here at our motherhouse, Our Lady of Angels Convent. Sr. Guadalupe’s bedroom has become a veritable workroom where she sews for any of the residents who might need skirts or slacks shortened, elastic replaced, or repairs of any sort made. During recent months, she—like many of the sisters at OLA—has been busy making items for the annual Christmas Craft Fair. And again her creativity is boundless. Remember that class that taught her to make use of whatever she found? It’s now put to use making infinity scarves, cell phone bags, and any number of other items. “Here I am—at your service,” she said smiling. “What I have received freely, I must give freely. God has been too good to me!”