Spanish religious sister remembered for devotion to immigrants

Franciscan Sister Teresa Losada, known in Spain as "the nun of the immigrants," died Aug. 25 at the age of 70 in the town of San Vicente dels Horts after a long battle with cancer.

Mayor Oriol Junqueras of San Vicente dels Horts was among the hundreds who attended her funeral Mass. He said Sister Teresa's life and work were "filled with values, wisdom, generosity and humility."

The town of San Vicente dels Horts has decreed three days of mourning for Sister Teresa's death. Flags around the town were ordered to be flown at half mast.

Sister Teresa, who held a doctorate in Semitic languages, was an expert on the Islamic world. She taught for several years at the University of Barcelona, until she decided to devote herself entirely to the care of Muslim immigrants, especially those arriving from northern Africa to find work.

In 1977 she founded the Bayt-Al-Thaqafa (House of Culture) Center in Barcelona, which became a model for dialogue between Christianity and Islam. 

Today the center is run by the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of Mary and the Hospitaller Brothers of St. John of God. It provides employment training, personal development workshops for women, legal counsel and language courses for more than 4,000 people each year.

The center maintains a staff of 70 people, including religious sisters, professionals and volunteers.

Because of her work with the immigrants during almost three decades, Sister Teresa was named a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Religious Dialogue in 2000.

She received many other recognitions and awards.

In 2001 she was named an adoptive daughter of the town of San Vicente dels Horts. In 2002 the government of Catalonia honored her with the St. George's Cross award, one of the highest civil distinctions granted to individuals and organizations that have made significant contributions to Catalonia, either through service to society and culture or by promoting Catalonia's identity.

In 2012 she was given the Cassia Just award.

The following year, she received the Emmanuel Mounier award in recognition for "her commitment and work in support of Arab immigrants and for her conviction that mutual respect between cultures and religions is positive for all."

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