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By Sister Marie Skebe, OP

September 3, 2019, West Palm Beach, Florida – A delegation of five Adrian Dominican Sisters and one Associate accompanied Sister Margarita Ruiz, OP, to her Naturalization Ceremony, conducted August 22, 2019, by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. 

Sister Mary Ann Caulfield, OP, Chapter Prioress, drapes Sister Margarita Ruiz, OP, with a red scarf before her Naturalization Ceremony. The scarf was a gift from Sister Donna Baker, OP, who could not be present.

As the group arrived at the site of the Naturalization Ceremony in West Palm Beach, Florida, Sister Mary Ann Caulfield, OP, Chapter Prioress, wrapped Sister Margarita in a red scarf sent with love by Sister Donna Baker, OP, who could not be present for the ceremony.

The ambiance at the 1:00 p.m. ceremony was formal, yet warm and welcoming. Seventy-six persons from 24 countries stood as their country’s name was called and then, as a group, said the Oath of Allegiance to the United States. This was followed by the singing of the “Star Spangled Banner” and the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance by all present. The group included young couples who brought their children, who were invited to the stage to lead the Pledge of Allegiance.  

The new citizens were then given important information regarding their rights and responsibilities. Rights included voting and the freedom to apply for federal employment requiring U.S. citizenship. Responsibilities included supporting and defending the Constitution and participating in the democratic process and in their local communities. The new citizens were also reminded that they may sponsor family members to come to the United States. The ceremony concluded with the singing of “God Bless the USA.” 

Attending the Naturalization Ceremony were, from left, Associate Sylvia Raftery and Sisters Mary Ann Caulfield, OP (in back), Margarita Ruiz, OP, Teresita Ruiz, OP, Marie Skebe, OP, Joseph Eilese Hukle, OP, and Mary Jean Clemenger, OP.

Later in the afternoon, nine Sisters and one Associate gathered for a true American celebration with all the decorations, dinner, and Bingo. The celebrants were quick to congratulate Sister Margarita and to express their pride in the new U.S. citizen.

“One of the things I appreciate the most is the possibility to participate in a democratic country,” Sister Margarita said. “I love the statement which declares that no one is above the law. I am delighted that I will be able to vote.”

A native of the Dominican Republic, Sister Margarita and her sister, Sister Teresita Ruiz, OP, are both Adrian Dominican Sisters. Before coming to the United States in 2013, Sister Margarita taught seminarians of various religious congregations at the Dominican Institute of Theology in her native country. She now lives in West Palm Beach, Florida.

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June 8, 2018 – During a special ceremony, the Dominican Republic issued a postage stamp honoring Humberto Ruiz Castillo (1897-1966), a noted engineer and architect and father of two Adrian Dominican Sisters, Margarita (Margot) Ruiz, OP, and Teresita (Tete) Ruiz, OP. 

Fernando Ruiz – nephew of Sisters Margarita and Teresita Ruiz and grandnephew of Humberto Ruiz Castillo – represents the family in accepting the honor.

During the event – held May 29, 2018 at the University of Santo Domingo – Licentiate Modesto Guzman, Director of the Postal Institute, noted the special significance of commemorative stamps. A citizen receives greater honor when a stamp is issued in his or her name than when a street is named for the person. The street name is known usually only to the neighbors, while stamps travel all over the world. Those who receive the stamp may be interested in the person who is honored.

“We were delighted and profoundly touched by what people at the event said about our father,” Sister Margot said. “Some of the speakers emphasized that he was very honest, disciplined, and generous – an example for all of society. He put his heart into everything he did.” While their nephew, Fernando Ruiz, represented the family at the event, Sister Margot and Sister Tete watched videos of the event.

The stamps depict Humberto Ruiz Castillo on the bottom right-hand corner, surrounded by a variety of buildings that he had constructed. He designed and constructed several Catholic churches, as well as the Colegio Santo Domingo, the grade school and high school opened by Adrian Dominican Sisters. 

Humberto Ruiz Castillo taught for many years at the University of Santo Domingo, passing on to his students what he had learned in Europe. He was responsible for introducing Art Deco to his students, who in turn planted those seeds and spread them to new generations. He also co-founded the Dominican Republic’s first association of engineers and architects. 

For his many contributions to the Church, Humberto Ruiz Castillo was named Diocesan Architect. At the time, the Dominican Republic encompassed one diocese. In 1949, he was consecrated by the Holy See with the Order of St. Gregory the Great.

Feature photo: A series of commemorative stamps, issued by the Dominican Republic, honor Humberto Ruiz Castillo, designer of the Congregation’s Colegio Santo Domingo and father of Sisters Margarita Ruiz, OP, and Teresita Ruiz, OP.



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