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  • CFR Sisters

What is a “Muñeca”?

   “¿Tiene una muñeca?”


Her dark brown eyes looked at me intently as she eagerly waited for an answer. I knew she was hoping I would say yes. I translated her Spanish in my head. “Do you have…a muñeca? What could a muñeca be?” I thought. The little girl appeared to be about six years old. I looked at her eager eyes and found the answer. Folding my arms, I pretended to rock a baby and asked her, “Una muñeca?” “Sí!” she responded with delight, and I understood that her request was for a doll. I apologized and with sadness let her know that we did not have a doll. I asked her what her name was, and she replied, “Soñia.”


It was Mother’s Day when I met Soñia. A group of us went for a walk to Central Park. As we crossed the basketball court next to out convent, we saw two Hispanic mothers with their children, including Soñia. We stopped. One sister talked with the moms in Spanish, another went back to the convent to get some things for their families, and the rest of us engaged the children. We finished helping them, let them know they were always welcome to stop by the convent, and parted ways.


During holy hour that evening I prayed for Soñia, the other children and their moms, and kept picturing Soñia’s face and hearing her sweet little voice asking for a doll. We didn’t have a doll, but why not make one? Over the next few weeks, I sewed a simple cloth doll with button eyes, dark brown braided pigtails and a bright pink dress. The sisters knew about my little project and let me know when they saw Soñia’s family in the neighborhood. Eventually when the doll was ready, one of the sisters ran into Soñia and her family and let them know that we had a surprise for Soñia at the convent. Months went by. It wasn’t until just a few weeks ago that one of the sisters came to let me know that Soñia and her mom were at the door. I gave Soñia the doll wrapped in pink and white sparkly tissue paper with a shiny white bow. She opened it up and with delight exclaimed, “Una muñecita!” (A dolly!) Then she tied the bow around the doll’s waist, swaddled her in the tissue paper, stroked her hair and named her Nicole. We put little pink bows on Soñia’s pigtails that matched her doll’s bows.


My heart was moved by the little exchange, and as I later reflected, I was struck that the day we met the two mothers and their children was Mother’s Day—the day our whole country remembers the gift and beauty of motherhood and the day we honor our own mothers. Little Soñia’s request that day was an insight into the feminine heart. Why did she want a doll? It seemed to me that she wanted something of her own that she could hold, delight in, nurture and care for, even if it was a simple cloth doll. 


I was struck too that after Soñia’s months of waiting, her desire for a doll was joyfully fulfilled a few weeks before the season of Advent. Advent is like a whole liturgical season of one Mother’s Day after the next as we honor Mary as the Mother of Jesus and our Heavenly Mother too. May we draw close to Mary during this season of Advent and ask her to prepare our hearts for the joyful coming of Jesus at Christmas.


Mary, come and nourish the life of Jesus within us and teach us to love like you do. Give us your eyes to see and to delight in those we encounter each day, and give us your open heart to care for those that have been entrusted to us. Amen.


Sr. Mae, CFR


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