Mother Teresa of the Latinos

Lisa Martin

2010-Sr. Molly with donated backpacks filled 
with school supplies that she loads into 
her "clunker" and delivers to families in need.

Look up human dynamo. Following the definition it should read "Sister Maria Luisa (Molly) Muñoz."

As a young nun, Sr. Molly studied nursing and in the late 60s began ministering at the Migrant Worker Center in Muscatine, IA. She came to know these farm workers and fell in love with their gentle spirits, peaceful ways and deep faith. Today, she is in hispanic pastoral ministry in Colorado, and is known there as the "Mother Teresa of the Latinos" with people from everywhere calling to ask for advice, seeking comfort or looking for help.

Fellow volunteers Pat and Frank Gacnik said, "Sr. Molly provides a magnificent gifther presence. She offers welcome, mercy, comfort and spirituality and a beacon of hope in the darkness of despairing lives. At age 77, with complete dis-attachment to material things, she serves the poorest of the poor with unbelievable energy. Her impact on others is stunning. Respected and admired by all, she's the most remarkable woman we've ever met."

1969-Sr. Molly schedules medical tests for a
 migrant worker who she suspected had TB

Sr. Molly was in Davenport, IA, this past April for a CHM congregational meeting. During a break she came to me wondering if I'd received an email regarding an award she was nominated for; it contained copies of  the nominations. Sure enough, in my inbox were letters nominating her for the Mary Ciancio Memorial Distinguished Service Award.

Sr. Molly said, "Last night was this awards banquet in Thornton, Colorado. I don't really know what it's all about. It is much more important that I am here with my religious sisters for future planning than to sit at a dinner for an award I do not know the name of.  And, I really don't like the attention. But I just found out I won!" She laughingly added, "When they announced me as the winner the other nominees were okay with the fact I wasn't there to receive itbecause I'm a nun." I relayed this news to 75 of her CHM sisters in the meeting, and she received the applause she so deserved.

Sr. Molly's biological sister, Virginia Muñoz, wrote, "Molly has carried the social justice "torch," handed down to us by our parents, since birth. She has dedicated her life to the underserved, volunteering her work not just with migrants but with all those that are hungry and in need. She willingly gives her personal Social Security funds to struggling familieswhich she will never admit and works tirelessly seven days a week. Molly always says, 'We can't give up, we have a life mission to care for the poor and underserved.'"

The migrant population in our country is in dire straits, ravaged by deplorable housing, low wages, exposure to pesticides and disease, a hostile environment, repressive laws and constant exploitation. Yet these peaceful people fill our tables daily with bountiful fresh foods. Sr. Molly is the "angel of the field" bringing with her God's Word and changing the battered faces of migrant farmers into faces of hope and encouragement.

A short list of the the many selfless acts of Sr. Molly:
  • Organizes night visits with attorneys to provide legal advice. She says, "I am bothered when people are underpaid, or not paid at all."
  • Accompanied an 8-month-old baby to a reunion in El Salvador with his mother who was deported 5 months earlier in an immigration raid
  • Initiated a community-wide toy drive which annually collects over 10,000 toys for kids of low income families
  • Is often found testifying in opposition to human rights violations--raising awareness of mistreatment endured by workers and engaging the legal community in addressing it
  • Is regularly at the state capital advocating for the reform of repressive laws
  • Was a witness against the abuse of five migrant workers by their field contractors
  • Intervenes in domestic violence crises
  • Supports families who have lost loved ones, often at young ages
  • Is fearless in confronting the powerful
  • Fills her donated "clunker" with bags of clothes, hygiene items, shoes, and medicine, traveling hundreds of miles in a day delivering to the needy
  • Gives presentations attracting groups and individuals to her causes