Friars who studied Spanish in Cochabamba, Bolivia, may have come in contact with Amanecer and its founder, Hermana Estafanía Murray. The Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul founded Amanecer in 1981 in response to the increasing number of abandoned children living on the streets of Cochabamba. Amanecer now runs a string of orphanages, drop-in centers, medical centers and training centers, in addition to providing free food to the children living on the streets. Hna. Estafanía, who was from the U.S., passed away Feb. 16 at the age of 85. Ignacio Harding reports:
I worked with Estafanía in the pastoral social team for years, when I was working in Cochabamba. She was chosen to be this month’s “La verdedera Magnifica” article for our JPIC Boletín. I called her on Friday for an interview for the article. Several of her relatives from the U.S. were visiting with her, so I told her I would get back in touch during the week. Then I heard that she had died the following Thursday.
We had her funeral at the Hospicio Franciscan Parish where she resided, and many of the beneficiaries of her programs participated. Two bishops and 12 priests concelebrated. Thomas Kornacki and I both participated, as well as Miguel Brems, OFM, who is on her board of directors.
There was a tremendous outpouring of affection for the little dynamo who dedicated herself for almost 25 years to the forgotten youth on the streets of Cochabamba.
A member of the prefect’s staff gave a special tribute. The mayor’s office, the police and the military were all present. There was standing room only with beautiful music by the kids she so loved.
It was a solemn tribute to a Sister of Charity who personified the ideals of St. Vincent every day of her life and still greatly influences all that goes on in Amanecer.