Sr. Maria Luz Cervantes (Paz), MSC was born August 26, 1928 in Guatemala. She died at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Nursing Home in Opelousas, Louisiana on November 28, 2020 at 5:45 PM.
Sr. Maria Luz was preceded in death by her father, Rafael Cervantes and her mother, Luz Calderon Cervantes and her sister, Magdalena Morley.
She is survived by her brothers, Rafael and Roberto Cervantes, her sister, Beatriz Hutchinson, and devoted nieces and nephews. She is also survived by Shirley Brien, long-time friend and co-worker; and former students who continued to be a presence in her life.
Paz had a very interesting early life. At 12 years of age, her parents sent her to Holy Angels Boarding School in New Orleans. At that time, she didn’t know a word English and deeply missed her family and country. However, in four months with her resilience, courage and the help of the Marianites at Holy Angels, she spoke English with her beautiful Guatemalan accent. As she learned the language and grew to love her new home at Holy Angels; she also grew in love and appreciation of the United States!
Sister entered the Marianites of Holy Cross on November 2, 1947 and pronounced her perpetual vows on August 15, 1952. She received her college education at Holy Angels Academy and also from Loyola University in New Orleans. In 1972, she earned a Master’s degree in Spanish from Incarnate Word College in San Antonio, Texas.
She was involved in education from 1947-1985 spending most of those years as educator at Holy Angels where she had once been a boarder, a student, and where she entered the Marianites of Holy Cross. She ministered to the Hispanic community in Manchester, New Hampshire from 1986-2010. Of her time in New Hampshire, a co-worker wrote: “It has been one of the great blessings of my life to have you as a friend and co-minister for these many years. I am very grateful to God that the MSCs “loaned” you to the church of New Hampshire.” Sister also served the Hispanic community in New Orleans from 2011-2015. Due to health issues, she became a resident of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Nursing Home in 2016. Family members, traveling from Guatemala, as well as former students and friends from near and far continued to visit her at home in Opelousas.
One of her favorite scripture passages captures a part of the essence of her life:
“For this reason, I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19)
Whether as teacher, counselor, parish minister, friend, or family member, she was a woman of deep prayer. The rosary and seven dolor beads were her faithful companions. She also loved to sit and pray in the garden or pray in her room gazing at the beauties of nature outside her window with scripture and journal in her hand. In those quiet moments, all the people and experiences of her life were reverently and faithfully placed in the palm of God’s hands. She knew well her gifts and limitations as well as the width and length, height and depth of the love of Jesus Christ. It was in that sacred love that she found her hope and healing and from that same love that she shared hope and healing with others.
Paz loved life and joyously shared that life with all of us. As our sister, friend, relative, teacher – she taught us the vast richness of various countries, personalities, languages, life styles, and cultures. Thank you, Paz, we miss you very much and ask that you continue to hold us in your hopeful and healing prayers.
Due to restrictions of COVID-19, a private funeral service will be held Wednesday, December 2nd, followed by burial in St. Landry Cemetery in Opelousas. In lieu of flowers, the Marianites of Holy Cross request that memorial donations be sent to the Marianites of Holy Cross at our Congregational Center – 21388 Smith Road, Covington, Louisiana, 70435.