Sister Lupe brings the Word to the faithful

CHARLESTON — Sister Lupe Hernandez answered her call to the Daughters of St. Paul when she was a young girl of 14. Since then, she has never looked back. She will celebrate her 30th anniversary June 30.

“I wanted to join a group that presented the Word of God, and the Daughters of St. Paul does just that,” she said. “What better way to do that than through modern media.”

And despite the many changes that have taken place in terms of technological advances Sister Hernandez, 50, said that the one thing that remains the same is that “people are still searching for God.”

“I am so impressed that children today really keep God in their lives,” she said. “I have parents coming to me in shock when they discover that their children are so open to God’s leading. God is really taking care of children today.”

It is this same sincerity and desire for God that led Sister Hernandez to accept a religious vocation at such a young age.

“I grew up in a small town in the desert in Southern California,” she said. “I never really spent any time with sisters, but thanks to the suggestion of a very faithful priest and my parents I decided to see what religious life was like.”

It is this step of faith that took Sister Hernandez to study with the Daughters of St. Paul in Boston, Mass. In those days, she explained, the order had a high school that served as a pre-formation training.

“We don’t accept anyone under 18 anymore, but that is the way they did things back then,” she said.

And since that time Sister Hernandez has served in Pauline Books and Media locations all over the United States. Currently 19 stores are in operation, and she explained that each location presents a very different ministry.

“It is so different being in a store in San Francisco or New York — very  Catholic states,” she said. “I find that people in South Carolina are searching for information on apologetics and scripture. They want to know about the faith.”

She said that she is amazed when people her age come to her asking for guidance on praying the rosary or other basic Catholic traditions. And Sister Hernandez takes these opportunities of inquiry to direct people to the church.

“We are a bridge to the church,” she said. “We act as a lighthouse for people who have never stepped foot into a Catholic church. We must direct them to an even brighter light, which is the church.”

She said that one great thing about a bookstore ministry in Charleston is that many tourists make Pauline Books and Media a regular stop on their vacation itinerary.

“We’re like coming home after a long time away,” she said. “We’re always here, and we have what people need. The great thing about books is that they’re patient and will wait for us.”

Since she came to Charleston in 2001, Sister Hernandez has made an indelible impression on the lives that she touches, including Tina Jost and her family, parishioners at Christ Our King in Mount Pleasant.

“(Sister Lupe) has become a special part of our family,” said Jost. “She has become a sister to me, and my three boys love her as an aunt. I feel blessed to be friends with such a loving, caring person.”

Father Greg Wilson, parochial vicar for the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, also counts Sister Hernandez as a very dear friend.

“Sister Lupe truly allows the light of Christ to shine through her,” he said. “Her kindness and openness to Christ’s will is something that I admire about her.”

Father Wilson is also thankful for what he refers to as Sister Hernandez’s “brownie ministry.”

“The ‘nun brownies’ are the best you will ever taste,” he said.