Sister Maria Imelda Quechol and Sister Eloisa Torralba Aquino of the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus “Ad Gentes” have been nominated for Catholic Extension’s annual Lumen Christi Award for their service to the Hispanic community around Chattanooga.
The Sisters, who serve an area of need that encompasses 13 parishes in eight counties in the Chattanooga Deanery, minister to a Hispanic population estimated to be more than 10,000 people. They are the most visible faces of the Church to the Hispanic community in the deanery, and they are intrinsically connected to the community they serve.
If a person or family is experiencing a hardship, they know it. If a family is impacted by COVID-19 and in need spiritually or financially, they are there to help. Sisters Imelda and Eloisa have been religious sisters for 35 and 26 years, respectively, and have energy, compassion, and love for all they serve. While they work out of the parishes, they are always ready to hit the road, especially as undocumented Hispanics are hesitant to register at parishes.
Their ministry includes coordinating Masses and the sacraments for field workers, catechizing, and helping married couples and families. They console the grieving and visit families in their homes, delivering necessities for those in need, as well as provide rides and support for immigration, medical appointments, and school visits. The Sisters take calls any time of the day or night, many of which are emergencies. They also help coordinate legal assistance and accompany individuals when they go to court. Above all else, Sisters Imelda and Eloisa ensure that people know they are loved and are not alone. Through all this and more, these two Sisters have left an indelible mark of Christ’s love upon thousands.