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Long-time vocations director Sister Lupita Barajas passes

Long-time vocations director Sister Lupita Barajas passes - (14-07-2014)

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Sister Lupita Barajas, OSB, 73, a member of the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, died Monday, July 14, 2014, at her monastery in Tucson, Arizona. Throughout her life, Sister Lupita was known for her warm and welcoming personality and joyful spirit.

She was born Marina Guadalupe Barajas on Jan. 24, 1941, in the border town of Nogales, Sonora, Mexico. She was the fifth of seven children born to Juan and Marina (Cardenas) Barajas. The family was very close and their home often served as the center for the large extended family.

When she was 15 years old, she immigrated to the United States with her parents and sisters, Amelia and Lourdes, and her brother, Luis. They moved just across the border in Nogales, Arizona. She attended the public school in Nogales and learned English. Her hobbies during school years were dancing, going to movies, playing records and sewing.  

She graduated from high school in 1962 and worked as a secretary for a company in Nogales. She joined the Catholic Young Adults Club where she enjoyed many social activities. She attended a Cursillo in Phoenix, and it was during this time that she began to think about how she could serve God. She began to attend Mass during the week and was drawn to spend more time in prayer. She also began to teach catechism at a local parish. A priest in Nogales told her about the Benedictine Sisters in Tucson and took her to visit.

“I remember visiting the chapel for the first time and feeling a deep sense of peace. It felt right,” Sister Lupita once said.

She waited two years before making the decision to enter because it was difficult for her family. She entered as a postulant at the congregation’s motherhouse in Clyde, Missouri, on Aug. 8, 1965, at the age of 24. She completed her novitiate in St. Louis and made her first monastic profession in April 1968.

In 1971 she decided to leave community life and was dispensed from her vows. However, she once again felt called to serve God in a life of prayer and asked to return less than two years later. Sister Lupita returned in the fall of 1973 and made first vows on Christmas Eve of that same year. She then transferred to the Kansas City, Missouri, monastery where she made her final profession on Oct. 11, 1975.  

Sister Lupita worked at various positions during her early years in community by serving in the printery, correspondence department, kitchen and altar bread department. She also worked as a bookkeeper and helped with sewing.  

She attended the Institute for Religious Formators program from 1978 to 1979 in St. Louis then was appointed vocation director for the congregation. She lived in the San Diego monastery from 1982 to 1986 after which she was elected to the general council. She served as assistant prioress general to Sister Karen Joseph, OSB for two terms on the council from 1986 to 1996. She also continued in the position of congregational vocation director, a position she held for almost 20 years.  

Sister Lupita served on the Core group of the American Benedictine Formation Conference for four years. She was also part of the Latino/Hispanic committee of the National Religious Vocation Conference. She moved to Tucson in 2001 and served as subprioress for seven months before she was elected prioress for two consecutive terms, serving from 2002 to 2008. Sister Lupita once again served as subprioress in Tucson from 2012 to shortly before her death.

Never really leaving vocation work, she served on the admittance committee for seminarians and helped evaluate seminarians and transitional deacons in the Tucson Diocese. She also served as the vocation contact for the Tucson monastery and hosted many events for those discerning a call to religious life.

In the spring of 2014 she was diagnosed with advanced liver disease, a condition from which her mother, an older brother and her youngest sister also died. Rather than undergo a liver transplant, Sister Lupita chose to let God decide when it was time for her to go home. Her last days were spent under hospice care at the Tucson monastery where she was visited by family and numerous friends.

Never losing her cheerful demeanor, she accepted her death with great dignity and joy of spirit. The sisters gathered around her the morning of July 14 and sang the suscipe while she passed. Her brother, Luis, and sister, Amelia, were also with her. 

Sister Lupita was preceded in death by her parents, her brother, Juan Barajas Jr., her infant sister, Amelia, and her sister, Lourdes Barajas. She is survived by her sisters, Rosalva Gerardo and Amelia Mankel, a brother, Luis Barajas, and her monastic family.

The funeral Mass is scheduled for Saturday, July 19, at the Tucson monastery. The burial of the cremated remains will take place at a later date at the cemetery of the monastery in Clyde. To share a memorial in honor of Sister Lupita, please visit the Benedictine Sisters online.

Wake and Funeral information for Sister Lupita Barajas on Saturday, July 19, at the Tucson monastery:

9 a.m. to 10 a.m. - Public viewing in Adoration Chapel

10 a.m. - Rosary

11 a.m. - Funeral Mass

Refreshments and sharing of Sister Lupita's life will take place in the Assembly Room following Mass