Ada María Isasi-Díaz (1943-2012)
It is with a profound sense of loss, and with deep gratitude for her life that the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians announces the death of longstanding active member Dr. Ada María Isasi-Díaz, Professor Emerita in the Theological School at Drew University. Born on March 22, 1943, she died in the early hours of the morning of Mothers' Day, May 13, 2012.
The 1995 recipient of the Virgilio Elizondo Award “for distinguished achievement in theology, in keeping with the mission of the Academy,” Dr. Isasi-Diaz was distinguished colleague and mentor, friend and teacher, sister and madrina to many of the members of this Academy. We know that her prophetic voice continues to resound and continues to call us insistently to work for justice and to reconciliation, to engage en la lucha side by side with all who yearn for the kin-dom or God.
The author of books that include En la Lucha / In the Struggle: A Hispanic Women's Liberation Theology, Mujerista Theology: A Theology for the Twenty-First Century, La Lucha Continues: Mujerista Theology, co-author (with Yolanda Tarango) of Hispanic Women: Prophetic Voice in the Church, and co-editor (with Fernando F. Segovia) of Hispanic / Latino Theology: Challenge and Promise, Dr. Isasi-Diaz was also an internationally renowned speaker. Born in La Habana, Cuba, and becoming a political refugee in the Unitted States in 1960, as an activist-theologian she worked tirelessly on behalf of justice and reconciliation.
The development of mujerista theology was among the singular contributions of Dr. Isasi-Diaz to the academy, but not to the scholarly community alone, for her insistence on the importance of lo cotidiano, that is, of lived daily experience, broke down the walls of narrowly construed academic concerns to insist that grassroots women be respected as active partners en la lucha. In a March 2012 interview with Elizabeth Palmer for Sojourners, she explained, "All my insights come from talking with grassroots Latinas. Some people do not take my work very seriously. They think it’s more like ethnography and sociology than theology, but you know what? If I, with my theological work, can validate how these women live their religion, then I will consider my work to have been worthwhile."
For Dr. Isasi-Diaz, la lucha was also El Camino, for in 2007 she herself walked El Camino as a pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela. In the last weeks and months of her journey on El Camino toward the fulfillment of her life's hope in the kin-dom of God, her family generously shared the difficult steps of that journey with her many friends and admirers around the world. As her cherished family and all her loved ones mourn her passing from this life, and as with them we continue la lucha with tears that dare to testify to the triumph of hope, with love and admiration, we the members of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States offer our prayers as we walk El Camino beside them.
See the autobiography of Dr. Ada María Isasi-Díaz on her Drew University page by clicking here. See the tribute to Dr. Ada María Isasi-Díaz by ACHTUS Past-President Dr. Michelle Gonzalez Maldonado by clicking here. Return to the ACHTUS home page by clicking here. Ada María Isasi-Díaz delivering the Vanderhaar Lecture in Memphis, TN, March 15, 2012. Photo courtesy of Janice Vanderhaar