By DEIRDRE C. MAYS
Sister Lupe Stump has broadened her ministry from a small, but active mission to one that encompasses the state.
This Sister of Mercy of the Americas is the new coordinator of Hispanic Ministry for the Diocese of Charleston.
As of Feb. 1, Sister Lupe will oversee the development and involvement of the Spanish-speaking Catholics in South Carolina as they join, or continue to build, communities of faith.
Sister Lupe is well equipped to handle the responsibilities of her position. For the last year, she, and Sister Mary Gallagher, developed thriving Hispanic programs out of tiny St. Anthony Mission and out of their home next door. She also made time to lead the Hispanic ministry at St. Francis by the Sea in Hilton Head.
The busy coordinator will continue to work from her Hardeeville home and mission.
Sister Lupe is a Chicago area native who has Mexican-American roots and is bilingual. Her heart has always been open to helping people and it is something she takes seriously. She holds a master’s degree in social work, the equivalent amount of study in theology and has begun doctoral work in history. Sister Lupe has also worked as an associate professor of social work at Ball State University in Muncy, Ind.
Before coming to South Carolina she led her community of the Sisters of Mercy of Chicago. She feels comfortable in a leadership role.
Sister Lupe decided to apply for the coordinator’s position after her experience working at St. Francis by the Sea last year. She feels that her work in that growing parish prepared her to recognize and respond to the needs of the Hispanic Catholics at large.
“That is the most multi-cultural area because every nation is represented from Central and South America,” she said.
One of her foremost goals is to make people aware that “we are one Church.
“I see a Hispanic church and an Anglo church in parallel,” she explained. “I think the two of them need to be together. We need to figure out how we can open doors so that everyone feels welcome.”
As a self-described “facilitator by profession,” Sister Lupe will spend much of her time traveling to parishes. She will meet with pastors and the leaders and followers of Hispanic communities throughout the diocese.
In her mobile acquaintance with the state, Sister Lupe expects each faith community to be different from the next.
“I will be a resource person,” she said. “I want to make people aware of what services are available and what they can use.”
An ideal vision of the Hispanic community of the future is one that is bilingual and bicultural, according to Sister Lupe, but she said a strengthening of faith must take place first. When asked if she thought the ministry to Spanish-speaking people is in its infancy she said yes and no.
“If we realize that South Carolina has become a port of entry that is booming, we see that it is beyond its infancy, but we will still continue to have some elements of growth,” she said. “South Carolina has attracted different people from all over the United States to come here and work or retire but it has also attracted immigrants to come and provide services. The combination brings problems and an economic stratosphere.”
Unity, however, is always on her mind.
“My responsibility is to listen to where people are and get a very strong feeling of where the diocese wants to go,” she said. “I truly feel this is a journey where everyone is going to be traveling. We need to begin to put the kingdom of Jesus together for everyone. He began one Catholic faith. It was his gift of love.”