· Vatican City ·

M. Paula Blum, a Schoenstatt Sister of Mary on a mission in Ecuador

Serving God with a dental drill and a smartphone

 Serving God with a dental drill and a smartphone  ING-025
21 June 2024

Dentist, Social Media Producer and Religious Sister. All these titles could be included in the job description of Sr M. Paula Blum, Schoenstatt Sister of Mary, issm , from Ecuador. The 34-year-old is in her final year of studies to become a dentist and has a passion for spreading the “Good News” via Instagram.

“It’s a gift that I can do everything that I love. I’m a Sister of Mary — I left dentistry to become a Sister of Mary. Then I went back to it. And now I do social media, which is more like my hobby”. This is how Ecuadorian Sr M. Paula Blum, Schoenstatt Sister of Mary, issm, sums up her life as a religious sister on the way to becoming a dentist.

In an interview with Vatican News Sr M. Paula explained how she came to live out her mission in these diverse fields of work.

“When I was 11 years old, I decided I wanted to be a dentist”, she recalled. Before entering the Secular Institute of the Schoenstatt Sisters of Mary, she had already studied dentistry for three years. She got to know the Schoenstatt Sisters through the work they do with the Schoenstatt Movement, in particular with youth and families. Sr M. Paula felt called to this way of life and imagined she would also devote her service to doing pastoral work with the Schoenstatt Movement.

“When I entered the community, I didn’t know that we were a secular institute”, she said, and explained that she was not aware that the sisters could also pursue secular professions.

Secular Institutes are communities of consecrated people who can live alone in the world and work in secular fields of work. Their mission is to sanctify the world “from within” through their presence in the midst of secular society.

Sr M. Paula remembered how her superior then asked her if she “wanted to continue working, studying dentistry”. She said she considered it, and said, “If it is possible, yes”. On the other hand, she was also wondering if she couldn’t study something along the lines of social media.

Then she came to the decision: “I thought that maybe I could do social media without a title. I could work, do courses, but I couldn’t be a dentist without my diploma”.

Teeth are a treasure

“I know people are usually afraid to go to the dentist and they see it as weird that we like working on people’s mouths. That’s usually what people think of us”, Sr Paula explained. Yet she sees people’s teeth and mouths as “a treasure”.

“I know I have to be trained well enough so I can take care of teeth, which allow us to speak, to eat, and also to have good relationships, because people who don’t have a nice smile often have a low self-esteem, sometimes they don’t even speak”, she noted.

Sr M. Paula sees this field of work as a very practical way of helping people to experience their own value and dignity. She said that it was always her wish to help people. “I know as a dentist I can help many people to recover their healthy lifestyle, to help, so people can eat well and eat whatever they want, and improve their self-esteem”, she added.

Her wish for the future would be to “have my private practice, work at a clinic with other colleagues, and also help people who can’t afford to pay for a dentist”.

Then there is the other passion that Sr Paula has: Social media.

God has to be present where people are present

Sr M. Paula revealed, “When I was asking myself whether I should become a sister, I didn’t want to ask the youth sister, but I asked Google about the community of the Sisters of Mary. So I came to understand that people look for answers on the internet”.

She explained why she felt compelled to use social media in order to be close to the people: “I think that being a millennial, growing up with social media, in my time with Hi5 and Facebook, it has always made me conscious that people spend a lot of time on social media, since I did it too. I’ve always wanted to be where people are. God has to be present where people are present, where people are looking for answers”.

Sr M. Paula started to develop an Instagram channel, which the community in Ecuador had set up in 2020. She motivated her co-sisters to collaborate in creating inspirational content for the online community. Thus, their account (@hermanasdemariaec) was born.

Balancing her time between community life, university studies, and social media can be challenging, admitted the Schoenstatt Sister. “Time is my biggest challenge. I feel I have a gift, that I can do everything that I love. But managing time when you love all you do is a challenge”.

She shared that she has only half a day every week to work on social media. There are occasions when this isn’t enough. “Some semesters, when they are very demanding in my studies, I find myself editing videos on the way home”, Sr M. Paula said. “I get home and I’m dizzy, but well, I finished that video! So, it’s demanding”.

Women religious on social media

Sr M. Paula shared her thoughts on the particular contribution women religious can give to the world of social media.

She said that one question had motivated her. “I was thinking that if the Blessed Mother were here today and she had social media, how would she give the message of her Son to this world, in this century?”.

“I think that’s the contribution we can give as consecrated women: to give the message of God in a feminine way, like how our Blessed Mother would do it, with that language, with those values”.

And as “there’s a lot of fake news, and there are also fake images of women”, Sr M. Paula added, “I think we also have that mission of giving the world the true image of woman”.


By Sr Francine-Marie Cooper, issm