Ministry in Mexico began with missionary trips to communities in Oaxaca and Tepic to work with the poor and indigenous people. Soon, several Sisters felt called to be a year-round presence to the people who needed help in the form of advocacy for housing and basic education as well as skills development (sewing, cooking, health care).
The Sisters also began the formation of catechists for all young children and preparation of parents and godparents of children for Baptism, First Eucharist and Confirmation. The Sisters began ministry to prisoners in the federal prison and area jails. Lately, the preparation of women and men in the practice of alternative medicine has become an emphasis as well.
Embracing the outrageous has characterized Sister Magdalen Kilbane’s service to others. In the true spirit of Mother Margaret Mary, Sister Magdalen’s work has usually set out to exceed the limits of what was usual! Whether she was teaching literature or managing a school or bringing life’s basic needs to those in need of care, Sister Magdalen did not let conventional expectations or arbitrary boundaries limit her service to God’s people.
Sister Magdalen’s ministry as a Sister of the Holy Spirit began as a teacher in elementary and high schools in Mississippi, Texas, and Louisiana for a number of years. She typically spent summers at the Motherhouse – until one particular summer began to change the pattern of her days.
In 1970, an invitation from the Oblate priests to work in some of their missions in Oaxaca, Mexico triggered in Sister Magdalen a desire to serve the indigenous people. She spent several summers in Mexico investigating several ministry possibilities, and in 1984, Sister Magdalen, along with her companions, decided to accept an invitation to live and minister to the indigenous people from the Sierra Nevada mountains near Oaxaca. Besides training catechists and providing for cooking and sewing lessons, Sister Magdalen also introduced some new and very creative projects that greatly benefited the people. These included rural stoves, solar ovens, ecological toilets and the introduction of glass windows in people’s homes.