New Local Superior for Poor Sisters of St. Joseph

On the verge of the first visit of Pope John Paul II visit to the U.S. in October, 1979, Mar?a D. Gonzalez, a young Puerto Rican woman living in Silver Spring, Md., prepared to get a glance of the pontiff at the special Mass at the National Mall in Washington, scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 7. "Lord, I know that I probably won’t get to see the pope at a close distance, but please at least grant me a grace," she prayed since the day she learned of the Mass. The day arrived and Gonzalez left home early in the morning to secure a good spot for the afternoon Mass. "When I arrived, there I found nearly a dozen of bright-white-dressed nuns," she said. "They were cheerful, so I stayed with them." The Sisters were a delegation from St. Gabriel Convent of the Poor Sisters of St. Joseph in Alexandria. "Throughout the celebration I felt surrounded by them," she said. "But I didn’t mind because we could understand well since we all spoke Spanish and were there with the same goal." During the months following the pope’s visit, Gonzalez kept in touch with her new friends by making several visits to their convent in Alexandria. In February 1980 she entered the convent. "That was the grace the Lord granted me," she said. She transferred to the congregation’s mother house in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where she began her four-year novitiate. In 1974, she returned to Alexandria to make her perpetual vows and became Sister Mar?a Gonzalez. Her first assignment was at one of the two congregation’s convents in Bethlehem, Pa. After spending 13 years between the two Bethlehem’s convents, Sister Gonzalez became the mother superior of St. Gabriel Convent and mayor superior of the congregation in the U.S. The Poor Sisters of St. Joseph Congregation dates back to the 1800s. Four sisters from the congregation came from Argentina to the United States in 1964 to establish convents in Alexandria and in Bethlehem, (Diocese of Allentown). In 1968, the congregation acquired the property next to Queen of Apostles Church in Alexandria, where they founded St. Gabriel Convent. Copyright ?1998 Arlington Catholic Herald, Inc. All rights reserved.

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