SAN DIEGO — This year, eight religious sisters in the diocese are celebrating milestone anniversaries of entering consecrated life.
The religious women community from across the diocese plans to come together on Jan. 27 to celebrate these “jubiliarians.”
The following are profiles of those marking key anniversaries in 2024:
Sister Maura Coakley, OCD, was born on a farm in Iowa on Sept. 28, 1931. She was the sixth of seven children.
Originally named Helen, she was baptized on Oct. 4, 1931, at St. Lawrence Church, which her great-grandparents helped to establish.was born and raised in Prescott, Ariz., and attended St. Joseph’s Academy, where she was taught by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.
Sister Maureen Evelyn Brown, CSJ, describes herself as a “Southern California gal.” Born in Los Angeles, she has lived her entire life between Granada Hills and Solana Beach. She entered the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet of the Los Angeles Province in 1963 and made final vows in 1971. Her ministries have included elementary school teaching at St. John the Baptist’s in Granada Hills, St. Eugene’s in Los Angeles, and St. James in Solana Beach. She has also served as director of religious education at St. James Parish, novice director for her religious community’s Los Angeles Province, pastoral associate at St. Patrick’s and St. Thomas More parishes, and part-time counselor on the provincial team in Los Angeles. As part of her parish ministry in recent years, her focus has been social justice and bereavement ministry. “As I reflect on these past 60 years as a Sister of St. Joseph, I am so grateful and humbled by the gift of God’s constant love, mercy and fidelity,” she said. “I have been blest to be on this journey with so many faith-filled and dedicated women and men, who constantly inspire me and challenge me to be my best self. My heart overflows with gratitude.” 50 YEARS
Born in Calexico, Calif., Sister Bertha Meza, SJS, was the oldest in a family of five children. She is an alumna of Our Lady of Guadalupe Academy, Vincent Memorial Catholic High School and the University of San Diego, as well as the University of San Francisco. Sister Meza said that it was in fifth grade that she received her call to religious life. The principal was looking for five students to dress up as Sister Servants of the Blessed Sacrament for a Vocation Day presentation at St. Mary’s School. “I got all exited and raised my hand to volunteer,” she recalled, adding that she cried in the school restroom a few days later when she found out that she hadn’t been chosen. But her tears turned to joy when she felt that Someone was telling her, “Don’t worry. She did not choose you, but I choose you to be Mine.” She said, “I felt so happy that I stopped crying and said, ‘Yes, I want to be yours.’” Before entering religious life, Sister Meza worked as the school secretary at Our Lady of Guadalupe Academy. While in that role, she became even more convinced of her vocation. She entered the Sister Servants of the Blessed Sacrament on Feb. 12, 1972, in Guadalajara, Mexico. She made her first profession on Aug. 15, 1974, and final vows in 1980, both at the motherhouse in Guadalajara. Sister Meza taught primarily at the junior-high level at Catholic schools in the Diocese of San Diego, Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Diocese of Fresno, and served as principal of a few schools. Since retiring from teaching in 2017, she has been director of religious education at Our Lady Guadalupe Parish in Calexico, where she works with 20 catechists and about 240 students preparing for First Communion or confirmation.She entered that same religious community on Sept. 15, 1953, at the provincial house in Los Angeles, where she later professed her first vows on March 19, 1956, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1961. Sister Ensminger taught at St. Joseph’s, Tucson; St. Brigid’s, San Diego; All Hallows, La Jolla, where she and two other sisters opened the school in 1964; St. Martin of Tours, Los Angeles; and St. Patrick’s, San Diego. She served as principal at St. Cyril’s in Encino; and St. Lawrence’s in Redondo Beach. In 1987, Sister Ensminger went into a different type of ministry, serving as a pastoral associate at parishes in Pasco, Wash.; Thousand Oaks, Calif.; and, finally, at Immaculate Conception in Old Town San Diego, from which she retired in 2012. In January 2013, she joined the Ignatian Volunteer Corps. Under their sponsorship, she volunteered at Catholic Charities, where she assisted refugees from the Middle East, Africa, Asia and other areas. Sister Ensminger considers her eight years working with the refugees to be among the most spiritually, culturally and educationally enriching. She said she learned and received more from them than they did from her. 60 YEARS
Sister Maria Esther Núñez, SJS, was born in Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico. Educated by the Sister Servants of the Blessed Sacrament, she entered that congregation on July 18, 1971, in Guadalajara. She professed first vows on Aug. 15, 1974, and final vows on Aug. 15, 1980.
“I came to the USA on Aug. 20, 1974, to study English,” she said, “so that I would be able to fulfill my mission to increase the love of Jesus in the Eucharist and Mary, His Mother, through the ecclesial ministry of Catholic education in this country.” She has taught at Catholic schools in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Bakersfield and in the Diocese of San Diego. Locally, she has served at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel School, San Ysidro; St. Mary’s School, El Centro; and Our Lady of Guadalupe Academy, Calexico. Sister Núñez has also served as part of her religious congregation’s provincial team, including as treasurer and secretary. She currently ministers at Our Lady of Guadalupe Academy, where she is “helping the little ones at the ‘Happy Numbers’ program and other simple assignments.” “The wisdom I have learned throughout these wonderful years of love and service, is God’s great faithfulness,” she said, “and the one my sisters, students and people I have encountered have taught me.”
Sister Ana Guzmán, SJS, was born in San Juan de los Lagos, Jalisco, Mexico.At 20 years old, she decided to become a religious sister and to dedicate her life to the service of God. In 1981, she entered the convent in Guadalajara.
She professed her first vows in 1984. Two years later, she arrived in Los Angeles, where she studied at California State University in Northridge. She made her perpetual vows in 1990.
“I consider that teaching and sharing with others, including my family, are the most precious moments of my life,” she said. Sister Guzmán currently works at the Silviano Carrillo Centers, where she helps to prepare residents to obtain U.S. citizenship.
“I feel myself full and delighted when I am adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, from whom I receive all graces and blessings to continue in this beautiful vocation,” she said. “Blessed be God!”, grew up in Iraq, mostly in Baghdad.In 1989, she joined the Religious Community of the Congregation of Chaldean Sisters, Daughters of Mary Immaculate, professing her final vows in 1999. In Iraq, she served in various parishes and schools in Baghdad and surrounding cities. In 2000, she left Iraq for the United States, where she served the elderly as the administrator of her community’s St. Thomas Retirement Center in Turlock, Calif., until 2017. Sister Daniel was then appointed as novice director at the Sisters Formation House in Michigan. That same year, she was elected to serve as provincial for the Chaldean Sisters of the United States.In 2019, she moved to San Diego to serve the sisters of the local Chaldean community in El Cajon, caring for their spiritual and communal life at Good Samaritan Retirement Center.“My motto, since entering the order was ‘Thy will be done,’ words I take very seriously believing this was what God called me to do,” she said. Sister Daniel was diagnosed with cancer in 2009 and said that, at that time, she heard God telling her, “Sit down. Let’s talk.” “This became the most beautiful time in my life,” she said. “God was sitting with me and talking about my life. God opened my eyes and showed me things I didn’t realize about myself. I came to realize that my sickness was used for good in my life and I was able to assist others facing illness in a new way, a deeper way. God is good.” Sister C. Rose Miles, SFCC, is a member of the Sisters for Christian Community. She grew up in El Paso, Texas, where she was educated from kindergarten through 12th grade by the Sisters of Loretto, of which she is a co-member.25 YEARS Sister Agnes Daniel, DMIC
After several years in the financial services industry and much discernment, she felt called to a life in service to others informed by Gospel values. “Religious life provided the path through which to live this commitment,” she said. Sister Miles first entered religious life in 1996 as a member of the Medical Mission Sisters in Philadelphia, making her first profession of vows with them in August 1999.In 2001, she transferred to the Sisters for Christian Community. She has served in a variety of ministries.
From 1996 to 1999, she worked for Catholic Social Services in Philadelphia, where she facilitated empowerment support groups for at-risk teen girls.
From 1999 to 2012, she was at Father Joe’s Villages in San Diego, facilitating Life Skills and Spiritual Support Groups for women in transition from homelessness. From 2012 to 2020, she engaged in the same work at Martha’s Village in Indio, Calif.Since 2022, her ministry has been tutoring elementary school children in English language skills in Mecca, Calif.
“The motivating factor in my life is to provide a quality of presence that gives integrity and authenticity to both my Christian commitment and my life as a woman religious,” she said. “Those we serve are our best teachers and constant reminders of our commitment to be a healing presence.”