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Living the Faith: Josephine Munar

By Donis Tracy Pilot Correspondent
Posted: 1/23/2009

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Josephine Munar Courtesy photo

EAST BOSTON -- “My faith has given me a mission and this mission has saved my life,” stated Josephine Munar, a lay missionary who works at Our Lady of the Assumption in East Boston.

“The Church has given me a new life,” she reiterated.

For the past six years, Munar has served Our Lady of the Assumption in any way she can -- she has cooked, cleaned, taught religious education, decorated the church during holidays, even participated in a parish play -- all in the service of the church.

“I will do any kind of work that the parish needs,” she said.

A native of Southern California, Munar was born into a Catholic family, although as soon as she became an adult, she left the church, spending eight years in the Navy before becoming a program manager at a computer company in California.

“My real conversion didn’t start until I was 55,” the 71-year-old admitted.

Munar recalled how a friend, Father Richard Kennedy, who was then pastor at St. Mary’s Parish in Fullerton, CA, invited her to attend a series of talks called a catechesis from the Neocatechumenal Way.

“He left me free to continue to go if I liked it, or to stop going after the first catechesis,” she recalled. Munar stayed, and has been a member of the Neocatechumenal Way since then.

“I have experienced the love and mercy the Lord has shown me through the [Neocatechumenal] Way,” she said. Munar is quick to point out that she is not a “holy holy person,” but that she has experienced the forgiveness of sins and the mercy of God through her experience of the “Way.”

Munar credits the Neocatechumenal Way for changing her life.

“Before, the hardest decision I had on a daily basis was figuring out where I would eat lunch,” she said. “My life was very flat, very dead, very boring.”

“I needed to get a life, so to speak,” she said with a smile.

In 2001, during a retreat, Munar felt God was calling her to serve the Church as a lay “itinerant” missionary. Two years later, she arrived in East Boston with little more than the clothes on her back and began her mission at Our Lady of the Assumption willing to help the church in whatever way she could.

“I can say this has been the most satisfying time in my entire life,” she said, adding it is “even more satisfying than making money.”

Munar praised her pastor, Father Jose Manuel de la Pena, noting that “the Lord has given me the perfect parish and the perfect parish priest to serve.”

“Father Jose has been very patient, very kind and very merciful to me,” she continued. “If I had to pick any priest I have ever known to serve, it would be him.”

Our Lady of the Assumption, East Boston

Year established -- 1869

Pastor -- Father Jose Manuel de la Pena