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June 11, 2021, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic – Leaders and members of the Charismatic Movement in the Dominican Republic celebrated its 50th anniversary with a special conference honoring the late Sister Ana Feliz, OP, founder of the local movement.
The Catholic Charismatic Renewal is a “spiritual movement within the Catholic Church that emphasizes the availability of the power and the many gifts of the Holy Spirit in the life of every believer.” The Charismatic Movement encompasses that spirituality in mainline Protestant churches, as well as in the Catholic Church.
“Ana was very influential with the original group in seeing that they would be instructed and educated in their faith,” said Sister Rosa Monique Peña, OP, who spoke at the conference, held the weekend of Pentecost, Sunday, May 21-23, 2021, at a retreat center in the Dominican Republic. “I felt very happy and proud for having been asked to be part of the opening of this year, realizing that one of our own was the founder of the Charismatic Movement in the Dominican Republic.”
Sister Rosa Monique spoke on May 22 about the spirituality of the Dominican Order to about 40 people attending the conference in person and about 360 people who participated virtually. Other presentations focused on Franciscan spirituality and Ignatian spirituality.
Sister Rosa Monique said she was also invited to speak about Sister Ana after her formal presentation. “I spoke about Ana as a very spiritual woman, totally dedicated, a marvelous teacher and with feet on the ground – a very practical woman who also worked for justice, especially in San Pedro (in the Dominican Republic), where she lived for awhile,” Sister Rosa Monique said. Sister Ana was also influential with young women in Dominican Republic, bringing some of them into the Adrian Dominican Congregation, she added.
Sister Rosa Monique said she was pleased with the high regard in which the Charismatic Movement in the Dominican Republic holds Sister Ana. “They remember her very dearly,” she said, explaining that the headquarters of the movement displays Sister Ana’s photo prominently. The organization publishes a monthly magazine and offers webinars, workshops, and retreats to encourage people in their faith and deepen their spirituality, she said.
Also a native of the Dominican Republic, Sister Rosa Monique recalled offering courses to pastoral ministers in San Pedro for two summers and living with Sister Ana during those summers. “Her house was very frugal,” she recalled. “She didn’t see any need for any luxuries.” At the same time, Sister Rosa Monique recalled, Sister Ana had a joyful spirit, a “lovely sense of humor,” and the gift of laughter.
Born on April 27, 1932, in an isolated, mountainous area near San Jose de Ocoa, Sister Ana met the Adrian Dominican Sisters as a student at Colegio Santo Domingo. She entered the Congregation in September 1953. Known as Sister Maria Josefina, she was sent to teach at Adrian Dominican missions in Puerto Rico: Sacred Heart School in Santurce and St. Anthony School in Guayama. She later taught in Florida and the Bahamas until 1963, when she was sent as one of the first three Adrian Dominican Sisters to be missioned to Peru, at Our Lady of Guadalupe School in Callao.
Responding to a new call to pastoral ministry, Sister Ana studied liberation theology and the ways that she could serve the needs of the poor. In almost 40 years, she served as a pastoral minister and a spiritual director in areas throughout the Dominican Republic.
After Sister Ana’s death on August 23, 2019, Sister Rosario Martin, OP, remembered her in her funeral homily as a “model in ministry and a faithful follower of Jesus and Dominic,” whose “devotion to the Holy Spirit and willingness to share that with the people of God enriched the Church.”