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Department ofReligious Studies


Ana Maria Pineda

Ana Maria Pineda

Ana Maria Pineda, RSM: Election to Sisters of Mercy Leadership and Works

On April 7, 2018 at a meeting in Chicago, five Sisters of Mercy were elected to lead the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, West Midwest Community, which stretches from San Francisco, to Detroit. Among the elected, Sister Ana María Pineda, RSM was elected vice president. Born in El Salvador, Central America, she migrated to the U.S. with her parents when she was two. Starting as an elementary teacher, much of her ministry has revolved around some aspect of Hispanic ministry and theology, including teaching in schools that served inner-city, underserved Hispanic/Latino families in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and working in a parish in the predominately Hispanic Mission District of San Francisco. She has spent the past 21 years at Santa Clara University as a tenured faculty member in the religious studies department, mentoring many Latino/a students, as well as coordinating and convening the Latino/a faculty on campus. In addition she served as the director of the Graduate Pastoral Ministries Program at Santa Clara University between 1999-2005.

Prior to that, she was co-director of the Office of Hispanic Ministry and Hispanic Consultant to the Diocesan Catechetical Office in the Diocese of San Jose, and faculty member and director of Hispanic Ministry Program for 10 years at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. She was instrumental in promoting the earliest Hispanic Church dialogue in the national Encuentros of lay ministers and bishops. Over the years, the US Conference of Bishops has invited her to participate in the Bishops’ Committee for Woman and the Committee for Hispanic Ministry. With fellow Hispanic theologians she contributed early on in the newly established Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians in the United States (ACHTUS) and served as its President in 2000. 

Sister Ana María was a member of the committee that created the Hispanic Theological Initiative (HTI) which supports Latino/as in theological doctoral studies She is the author of Romero and Grande, Companions on the Journey, which is about the friendship between Archbishop Óscar Romero, who will be declared a saint later this year, and Jesuit Fr. Rutilio Grande, both martyrs of El Salvador. She has a B.A. in Liberal Studies from Russell College, M.A. in Theology, Catholic Theological Union, Chicago; Doctorate in Ministry Candidate at Jesuit School of Theology, Berkeley, and a Doctorate in Sacred Theology, Pastoral/Applied Theology, Universidad Pontificia de Salamanca, Spain.

In December 2017, Sr. Ana María gave a presentation for the Most Holy Redeemer Community in San Francisco on the theological and contemporary significance of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Drawing from the indigenous culture and theological roots of this iconic religious symbol, she referenced the original Nahuatl narrative and related it to Scriptural passages used in the Sunday liturgy of Catholic worshippers.

In early January 2018, Sr. Ana María was interviewed by Joshua McElwee, the Vatican correspondent for the U.S. publication, National Catholic Reporter. In light of the possibility of canonization of Archbishop Óscar Romero, she reflected upon the ongoing meaning and impact of Romero's life. The interview paid special attention to the relationship between Romero and Jesuit Rutilio Grande, including the possible personal impact of Grande's assassination for Romero. On March 7, 2018, the news that Pope Francis was set to canonize Romero later this year, was announced. Sr. Ana María’s entire interview with Joshua McElwee was published in the National Catholic Reporter. She discussed how his canonization affirms the importance of social justice for the Church; the influence of Rutilio Grande —who was like a moreprogressive younger brother and friend—on Romero; and how Romero grew personally and spiritually over his life.

On February 27, Sr. Ana María was a presenter in the Saint Rita Lenten Lecture Series 2018 “Becoming Church in the Age of Anger” in Fairfax, California. She spoke on "Romero and Grande: A Latin American Way of the Cross." Her presentation incorporated mural representations of Archbishop Romero and Jesuit Rutilio Grande as well as images from the Stations of the Cross from the chapel on the campus of the Jesuit University in El Salvador (UCA). The event included a book signing of Romero & Grande: Companions on the Journey.

On March 15, 2018, Sr. Ana María had the rare opportunity to conclude her course TESP 165: Archbishop Romero and the Salvadoran Martyrs by taking her students to SCU’s library special collection to see the “positio” for Archbishop Romero of El Salvador’s beatification and pending canonization. This important document(s) is prepared in the process to sainthood. A gathering of evidence of the person’s life is undertaken with diligence and a thorough weighing of the evidence. Many records are located, drawn up and eventually compiled over this lengthy process for sainthood. These gathered records are called the positio and this stately volume, bound in the color of martyrs, is the positio of Blessed Oscar Romero. Father Michael Engh, SJ with the generous support of donors, acquired for Santa Clara University both the positio for Archbishop Romero’s beatification (May 23, 2015), and the newly prepared one for his canonization.