Hello, Theoloqui community! It’s been a rich year being a part of Theoloqui! I’ve loved getting to know the rest of the Theoloqui contributors and engaging so thoughtfully and transparently with them. I couldn’t be more excited to now be passing the baton to Evelmyn Ivens! Evelmyn and I crossed paths at North Park Theological Seminary several years ago. I’ve enjoyed conversations with her around vocation and calling and have appreciated the writing and thinking that she’s done around race, culture and immigration. I believe Evelmyn’s voice and perspective will enliven and deepen this year’s discussion on the blog. So grateful that she’s joined this team of brilliant women. Yours, Jen Gillan
By Evelmyn Ivens
For the last two weeks I’ve been hanging out with my sisters, Indira and Nadia. My sisters live in Mexico and they came to visit me for the summer, and having them around it is a constant reminder of my roots. As we share memories, and talk about family, and Mexican politics (one of our favorite topics!), somehow religion, folk religion, and faith are part of our conversations. My sisters and I grew up in a Mexican cultural Catholic context. However, after moving to the U.S. I had a different faith journey and became evangelical, yet Catholic tradition it’s part of me.
A definition that I really like and that I think explains this well, is the one provided by historian Justo Gonzalez, he writes:
“We are Latinos. We belong to a traditionally Catholic culture. But we are also Protestant – a kind of Christianity that has traditionally closely associated with northern cultures. We are Latino, but not Catholics. We are something different, a new reality that contradicts the traditional paradigms – both the paradigms of culture and paradigms of our ecclesiastical traditions.”
As I reflect upon my Catholic background, the one person that comes to mind is my grandmother Ruth, my father’s mother. My abuelita (grandmother) Ruth past away last November, and even though it was something that the family was expecting for it to happened, the fact that I won’t see her on my next trip to Mexico makes me very sad. About a month before her passing I was able to spend some time with her and my grandpa. That day she told me stories about her life that I didn’t know, we laughed and enjoyed the day so much. That would it been the last time I would see her, we said goodbye and embraced each other with a big hug. That day she told me like other times, that this was probably the last time we would see each other, and I said, “don’t say that, we would see each other again!” However, that day I felt something different and deep inside I kind of knew that this was actually the last time.
Growing up I used to spend weekends with my cousins of from dad’s side of the family, and my abuelita was always there. On Sunday morning we would go to twelve-noon mass, then to lunch to the same restaurant, and I would usually order the same thing. What I always admired about her was that even though she was a petite lady her faith was visible, she was a devout Catholic. My dad for example, has shared stories about his childhood and how he used to spend a lot of afternoons at church because my abuelita thought catechism. My dad eventually, became a pastor, which I always thought was very interesting. Also I truly, believed that it was because of my abuelitas’ prayers that my dad had his own faith journey.
One of those stories she told me on our last day together was that when she started dating my grandpa and he wanted to get married her condition was that he had to respect her religion. That her faith and church was very important to her, and that she was not going to change or leave the church because of him. At the end he accepted the deal! My grandpa would never become a devout Catholic as his wife; however, every Sunday he would drive her to church on Sundays as well as to her prayer group. She attended church until the she was able because of her health. My abuelita Ruth was a woman of extraordinary faith, someone who loved unconditionally, even in the most difficult times, and she will always be remembered!
 Justo L. Gonzalez, “New People is Born,” in Hidden Stories: Unveiling The History of the Latino Church, eds. Daniel Rodríguez-Díaz and David Cortés-Fuentes (Decatur, GA: A.E.T.H., Asociación para la Educación Teológica Hispana, 1994), 104.