Chávez Orozco, María Vicenta of Santa Dorotea, Bl.
CHÁVEZ OROZCO, MARÍA VICENTA OF SANTA DOROTEA, BL.
Baptized Dorotea (Dorothy), also known as Mother Vicentita, foundress of the Servants of the Poor (now called the Servants of the Holy Trinity and the Poor); b. Cotija, Michoacán, Mexico, Feb. 6, 1867; d. Santísima Trinidad Hospital, at Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, July 30, 1949. The fourth and youngest child of a family that lived amid poverty, Dorotea was drawn to caring for the sick through the work of her parish priest, Fr. Agustín Beas, who established a six-bed infirmary in the rectory tended by members of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. She became his patient when she fell ill with pleurisy in 1892. At that time she discerned her vocation for ministering to the sick and poor, and began her service in the infirmary immediately upon her recovery later that year. She took private vows with Catalina Velasco and Juana Martin del Campo (1895). When her nursing companions abandoned her and their patients in 1898, she conceived the idea of a congregation. It was realized May 12, 1905 with the first sisters professing canonical vows in 1911. Beginning in 1913, she wisely guided her spiritual daughters for thirty years as superior general, refusing to discontinue her work in spite of dangers and calamities. Mother Vicentitia was threatened by revolutionaries (1910–20), and harassment by anti-clerical soldiers in 1926 forced the closure of the motherhouse chapel. In addition, a major earthquake rocked San Vicente Hospital (Zapotlán). She is lauded not only for her charity, but also for her heroic obedience, a virtue that she considered the highest form of sacrifice. Prior to the heart attack that caused her death, Mother Vicentita saw her congregation grow into an important charitable institution that supported eighteen hospitals, clinics, and nurseries.
At her beatification (Nov. 9, 1997) John Paul II proclaimed that she "built her work on the foundation of the suffering Christ, caring with the balm of charity and the medicine of comfort for the wounded bodies and afflicted souls of Christ's favorite ones: the destitute, the poor, and the needy."
Feast: July 30.
Bibliography: Acta Apostolicae Sedis 21 (1997): 1049. L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, no. 46 (1997): 1–3.
[k. i. rabenstein]