NYT Runs Obit for Catholic Theologian Isasi-Díaz

Finally (!)  The New York Times has run an obituary for Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz. My memorial for Ada will run in the July issue of Sojourners (at the printer now). Here’s a portion of Paul Vitello’s NYT article:

In part, Dr. Isasi-Díaz conceived of Mujerista, or “womanist” theology (from the Spanish word mujer, for woman), to distinguish her ideas from those of feminism — a term “rejected by many in the Hispanic community,” she wrote in 1989, “because they consider feminism a preoccupation of white, Anglo women.” She hoped that “Mujerism,” which she considered a spiritual branch of the reform movement known as liberation theology, would help delineate the special community of need and identity shared by poor, Hispanic, Catholic women.

“Hispanic women widely agree that, though we make up the vast majority of those who participate in the work of the churches, we do not participate in deciding what work is to be done,” she wrote in a 1989 article in Christian Century, titled “Mujeristas: A Name of Our Own!”

“We do the praying, but our understanding of the God to whom we pray is ignored.” Dr. Isasi-Díaz argued that poor women, by the nature of their roles in their families and communities, “exercised their moral agency in the world” more profoundly than any other group of the faithful. They did that in the small daily choices they made, she said: between bus fare and a 40-block walk to work, for instance; or between breakfast for oneself or one’s child. Those choices embodied immense moral power, and deserved to be honored in the form of greater roles for those women in their church.

Read the whole article.

Kate Ott: Remembering Ada María Isasi-Díaz

Kate Ott, assistant professor of Christian Social Ethics at Drew University and a Catholic, has written a lovely memorial to feminist theologian Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz. This was posted on the Feminist Studies in Religion blog:

As many reading this blog may have already heard, Dr. Ada María Isasi-Díaz passed away in the early morning on May 13, 2012.  While there are many other more qualified scholars, colleagues and friends to write a memorializing blog than I, I take up the task with humility and responsibility. I have known Ada since 1999 when she spoke in one of Rev. Dr. Letty Russell’s courses, Third World Women’s Theologies. This was a transformative class for my own formation, but what I could not believe was that one of the authors of our assigned readings came to have lunch and teach us.  As my partner often reminds me, I proclaimed that evening, “I met one of the coolest women in the world.”

After that meeting I was lucky enough to have a number of other opportunities to get to know Ada and continue to study her scholarship.  From a travel seminar to Cuba to hearing about her recent pilgrimage in Spain, from a quiet lunch in New York City to lectures at three different seminaries, I had plenty of opportunity to learn from Ada, who always had a story and advice to share.  Ada was an inspiration to me as Roman Catholic woman wondering where my place in academia might be.   I also often found myself uncomfortable in conversations with her, especially as a Master’s student rather clumsily discovering how my race and nationality blinded me to my privilege.

Continue reading “Kate Ott: Remembering Ada María Isasi-Díaz”

Mother of Mujerista Theology Dies, Isasi-Diaz Was 69

Cuban-born mujerista theologian Dr. Ada-Maria Isasi-Diaz died Sunday, May 13, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Fatima. She was diagnosed with cancer less than six weeks ago. She was 69.

The March 2012 issue of Sojourners magazine ran Associate editor Elizabeth Palmberg’s interview with Isasi-Diaz, Faith at the Tipping Point. The interview was conducted November 2011 at the Call to Action conference in Milwaukee.

“She leaves behind an amazing legacy. More than just a theologian, she was active in the struggle of others,” said Drew University colleague Dr. Laura Kearns, noting Isasi-Diaz’s 2009 leadership in protesting the closure of Our Lady Queen of Angels church in Harlem (see the NYT article).

Ada María Isasi-Díaz was a major force in Hispanic, mujerista, and feminist theology, liberation theologies rooted in the everyday experience of Latinas. As her foundational 1996 book Mujerista Theology: A Theology for the Twenty-First Century put it, her work aims at creating “a public voice for Latinas and capturing a political space for that voice,” including in academic theology. Isasi-Díaz was professor emerita of ethics and theology as well as founder and co-director of the Hispanic Institute of Theology at Drew University in Madison.

Watch an amazing video of Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz from Harvard’s Women’s Studies in Religion Conference.

Ada’s family has been blogging about her illness and last days at Ada’s Blog. Her sister Gloria writes:

There was no struggle, agony nor any signs of discomfort. She has now moved on to her eternal life, having left behind a remarkable legacy. The lives of all who knew her and loved her were immensely enriched by her presence. She walked un Buen Camino and triumphed in La Lucha for compassion and solidarity. It is time to celebrate her life and honor her memory.

“Ada Maria lived what she taught,” commented Notre Dame’s liberation and Hispanic theologian Virgilio Elizondo. “She was a great pioneer not just of creative theological thought but even more so of prophetic and visionary work among the people. She lives in our hearts and memory.”

+ Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz – PRESENTE! +

Read more:
Ada Marìa Isasi-Díaz, Mother of Mujerista Theology by MICHELLE GONZALEZ MALDONADO

Isasi-Diaz’s many books include:

Mujerista Theology: A Theology for the Twenty-First Century
En la Lucha / In the Struggle: A Hispanic Women’s Liberation Theology (Biblical Reflections on Ministry)
En La Lucha/In the Struggle: Elaborating a Mujerista Theology (10th Anniversary Edition)
La Lucha Continues: Mujerista Theology
Inheriting Our Mothers’ Gardens: Feminist Theology in Third World Perspective by Letty M. Russell, Kwok Pui-lan, Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz and Katie Geneva Cannon
Hispanic Women, Prophetic Voice in the Church: Toward a Hispanic Women’s Liberation Theology by Ada Maria Isasi-Diaz and Yolanda Tarango
Women of God, Women of the People: Four Biblical Meditations