Reflections from the XIV Congreso Latinoamericano sobre Religión y Etnicidad–Dr. Ada María Isasi-Díaz
Guest Blog written by Sylvia Macros, Director of the Center for Psychoethnological Research in Cuernavaca, Mexico and International Board member of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion.
At the XIV ALER International Congress on the History of Religions in Latin America, those participating in the panel to honor Dr. Ada María Isasi-Díaz had all known or read and worked with Ada. Ada’s work concentrated on the concrete and of the subaltern peoples, especially the experiences of diaspora and disposed Latinas within US Catholic pastoral work. Only fitting, the presenters were all committed to work inside poor and dispossessed communities in our own countries: Reverend Rebeca Montemayor, PhD; theologian Ana Lutterman; Pastor Martha Benavides; Magister Miriam Gaspar; and Professor Suyepa Perez. Most of them are women from San Salvador, feminist theologians, and of course, shared life projects with Ada.
We were surprised, this being an “Academic” meeting and our panel the very last one of the Congress, that the audience was so numerous for this honoring event. Ada was well known throughout Latin America. She had shared with the San Salvador theological groups and the Christian base communities at times of extreme political upheaval. She had shared several of the social justice struggles in the area. She was/is enormously appreciated for her commitment to justice within the church and being specially attuned to women’s voices.
Ada’s passing has been a great loss in my personal life. Her humility and her openness to listen attentively to my own perspectives concerning the respect for indigenous ceremonial and religious beliefs brought her to every one of my presentations at AAR and beyond.
We shared our interest in listening to the voices of those without an audible voice within powerful institutions, academic/other, and the State. For example, she did a pilgrimage to visit the Zapatista rebels in the South East of Mexico. I remember her saying “dialogue is a possible way, the Zapatistas are doing it and living by it now.”
Her participation in Salvador, Nicaragua, Cuba, and also in other countries and continents has been consistent with the main focus of her life project. The contents of the presentations at the panel in her honor ranged from gender justice and women excluded; towards an ecumenical spirituality in contexts of extreme violence; accounts of ten feminist theologians (Protestant and Catholic) and their responses to their call within their Church; feminist liberation theology within a martyrial memory; writing theology from women’s bodies; and ‘Indigenous Wisdom’ as Liberation. Comments were given to interrelate Ada’s “Mujerista Theology” and her many contributions to the issues presented from a feminist theologian point of view.
Her legacy continues to influence the reflections on faith we are doing now and in the future.