As a young girl, Avelina Garcia remembers seeing people, both in her family and at church, who expressed their faith with great devotion. Early on, she began to consider becoming a Sister.
Avelina went to Notre Dame High School in San Jose, where she helped pay her tuition by sweeping and dusting the art teacher’s classroom. Sister Mary Angelica liked this young, hardworking girl and asked if she would like to become a Sister. “Yes, but first I want to graduate from high school,” Avelina replied without hesitation. Sr. Angelica died in March 1949, and Avelina entered the novitiate that August — after graduating from high school, of course. “I claim Sr. Mary Angelica saw me enter from her place in heaven.”
For years, Sr. Avelina faithfully served as cook, housekeeper and assistant nurse in the large SND communities in Marysville, Alameda, San Francisco, Belmont and Saratoga, until a life-changing phone call from Father Albert Zabala, a Jesuit at the University of San Francisco, informed her that she had received a scholarship. In three years, she graduated with a bachelor’s in theology and continued on to complete a master’s degree in religious education.
This gift of education has been shared with many others. Sr. Avelina has served as religious education coordinator, often with Spanish-speaking workers. Her ministries have taken her from rural Gridley, Winters and Modesto to urban San Jose and Los Angeles. Sister is now living in Moreland Notre Dame Convent in Watsonville where she coordinates the confirmation program for St. Patrick’s Parish and volunteers in the prison ministry at the Santa Cruz County Detention Facility.
“For many years now, I have been privileged to work with and help others who are poor. I am very grateful to Sr. Mary Angelica and many others who encouraged me along the way.”