Education for change

by Sister Miriam Nohemí Arizpe Paredes

Sister Miriam Nohemí Arizpe Paredes right, hugs a woman in recovery.
Sister Miriam Nohemí Arizpe Paredes right, hugs a woman she met who is recovering from a stroke.

I am from Monterrey, Mexico. While I was serving as a volunteer paramedic for the Red Cross in Mexico, I became aware of the suffering of HIV-positive and AIDS-infected people. It was in a hospital where I saw injustice directed toward my friend David, who was dying of AIDS. The care that David received was inadequate — for any human being. In Nuevo León, Mexico, there are still many myths about the disease that interfere with the hospital care of individuals with HIV/AIDS.

David’s journey of dying made me question, for the first time, my beliefs and my faith as a Christian. During his illness David asked me to find a priest who could minister to him as death approached. To my surprise, a priest I asked denied David the Eucharist and refused to minister to him. I was ashamed and blamed God for this unmerited hardship. I saw David’s humanity and I believe he was always surrounded by God’s love.
It is through my experiences in working with terminally ill AIDS patients in Mexico and the United States that I have strengthened my commitment to work for change in the health care system. Too often it is the marginalized, poor women and children, and those with different sexual orientation who suffer the consequences of health care deficiencies. I want to be a mediator of God’s compassion, to respond to God’s challenge of embracing people in all their diversity and to help recover the dignity due to all human beings.

My education will help me participate in and eventually establish compassionate, faith-based programs for HIV/AIDS patients. I want to give them the opportunity to be healthy, or at least to relieve their suffering by offering a safe and sacred space where they can receive treatment for their bodies, and find moral and spiritual support. Receiving my education at Saint Mary’s College, which is part of my heritage as a member of this congregation, is an honor.

Sister Miriam Nohemí Arizpe Paredes graduated in May 2015 from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, with a double major in religious studies and business administration, with a concentration in accounting and finance. In the fall she will attend Loyola University in Chicago as a student in the MBA program, with a concentration in business ethics.

Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana, is a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of the Holy Cross.