Call her Sister Mary Exuberant: Profile of Sister Xiomara Méndez-Hernández, O.P.

Xiomara Méndez-Hernández grew up in a large, close family and had no intention of joining a religious community. She had a talent for fashion design and launched a career in that field. But after meeting the Adrian Dominican Sisters, she couldn’t shake the thought of living as they did. “It took me 13 years to listen to that voice in my heart,” she says. “It wasn’t easy, but I’m glad I did!”

Sister Xiomara Méndez-Hernández, O.P.

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Ever had any nicknames?

The day I became a novice one of the sisters in my community suggested I change my name to “Sister Mary Exuberant.” I embrace my “new name,” as I am from the Dominican Republic, and I’m an Adrian Dominican sister, so I’m double Dominican and double joyful!

What first drew you to religious life?

I heard an Adrian Dominican sister talking about a close, personal relationship with God, and her words echoed in my heart. I met other sisters from the same community who one day invited me to their house.

What aspects of their lives stood out?

They had a passion for truth; they wanted to share the good news of the gospel not just with words but through their lives. I loved how they worked with the vulnerable and disenfranchised.

What is your current ministry?

As a hospital chaplain in Las Vegas, I see that every hospitalization is a crisis of meaning. My main job is to listen, to offer the compassionate, loving presence of God to those who suffer. Every encounter is sacred, and I feel honored and privileged to be present with people in this way.

Your favorite way to pray?

Early in the morning when I wake up, I stay silent to greet God in the new day.

Most fun you’ve ever had with your community?

Dominicans are well known for being joyful, and in every major activity we have in our community or with other Dominican congregations, we love to dance. We take it “very seriously”!

Do you have a favorite saint?

Many have inspired me; right now I am fascinated with Saint Rose de Lima, the first saint of the American continent. I have studied her in order to perform her life at Dominican preaching conferences and other events.

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