Living the Faith: Maria Ortins

PEABODY -- Every Sunday, Maria Ortins trades her classroom in the Peabody public schools for a soundproof room at Endicott College in Beverly, where she hosts a Portuguese-language Catholic radio show.

For over 10 years, Ortins has read Scripture, encouraged prayer and meditation and spoken about God over the airwaves as hundreds of Portuguese listeners tune in.

“At first I thought people were going to persecute me because of the radio show, but it’s quite the opposite,” she said.

In fact, the show has become so popular she is hoping produce an English-language version of the show.

“Each week I talk of the importance of the word of God and the impact it has on our lives,” explained Ortins. Using the Sunday Mass readings, Ortins guides her listeners to meditate on their faith.

“We are prisoners of our modern world,” she stresses to her listeners. “There is not enough spirituality in our lives.”

A cradle Catholic who grew up on Graciosa Island, one of the smallest islands that make up the Azores, Ortins emigrated from the Azores in 1979 and shortly thereafter met her husband. The two were married in Our Lady of Fatima Parish -- the parish they still call home today.

“Living as a Christian is really my ideal in life,” she said, speaking from her Peabody home.

For Ortins, sharing her faith is something she strives to do in her everyday life.

“Sometimes a kind word in enough to change a person’s day,” she said. “God is so good and I think we don’t get enough opportunities to share it.”

Ortins first became actively involved in the parish when her only son, Brian, began attending religious education classes. Using her experience as a teacher, Ortins began teaching religious education and ultimately became the coordinator of the program for seven years.

Although she is no longer involved in the religious education program, Ortins still remains active with the youth of the parish. In addition, Ortins helps “keep the Portuguese Catholic traditions alive” in her parish.

According to Ortins, the Portuguese Catholic community is steeped in tradition, a tradition that her parish keeps alive in the processions and feasts of the parish.

“This is one of the pieces of our faith that I hope never dies,” Ortins said.

Although historically the parish has been a Portuguese parish, Ortins said that with the recent rise of the Brazilian population in Peabody, there is now a Brazilian community within the parish as well.

In addition, with the closing of the nearby St. Joseph Parish, there is now a vibrant Polish community in the parish as well.

“It is great to see three cultures coming together to worship God,” she said.