Sister Ángeles García Ribero (1905-1980) spent eighteen years in the mission of Kweiteh/Shangqiu, after having left the contemplative life and entirely dedicated to the mission of caring for and loving orphaned girls.

On December 9, 1905, Ángeles García Ribero was born in La Zubia (Granada). From a young age, she understood that she was a gift and that God wanted to put her at the service of his work. She entered the contemplative life at the Corpus Monastery Christi of the Augustinian Recollects Sisters, in Granada, her native land. On June 21, 1927, she made her solemn profession, but her heart was made for something bigger and she couldn’t stay within the four walls of her convent; she wanted to live and die for others.

Monsignor Francisco Javier Ochoa, Augustinian Recollect, apostolic prefect of Kweiteh, who would later found the Congregation of the Augustinian Recollect Missionaries, seeing the needs of the mission, traveled to Spain to search the cloistered convents of the Augustinian Recollects, missionaries who free and voluntarily would like to go to China to serve and help orphan girls of Kweiteh. Sister Ángeles heard the invitation that Ochoa made to them and accepted it deep within her.

At the age of twenty-five, after praying to God and directing her gaze to the Mother of Heaven, she wrote: “I, Sister María Ángeles de San Rafael, twenty-five years old, I volunteer to go to the mission in China, if this is God’s will“.

From the same monastery of Corpus Christi, sister Carmela Ruiz of Saint Augustine presented herself as a volunteer. The third volunteer sister was Esperanza Ayerbe de la Cruz, from the Monastery of La Encarnación, in the capital of Madrid. The three contemplative nuns, with prior authorization from the Holy See, left the cloisters and beloved convents to embark on missionary work, moved by the human and apostolic needs of the mission in Shangqiu. These three women brave and risk-takers would be co-founders of the current Congregation of Augustinian Recollect Missionaries Sisters.

Ángeles was in the Shangqiu mission, Henan, China for 18 years. She had to leave China because of the Sino-Japanese War. These years on the mission in China marked her life forever. She understood from her arrival that God wanted her for the mission; nothing was saved for herself, she knew how to overcome the difficulties inherent to a culture, a language, and customs very different from their own. She didn’t give up on moments of difficulty, on the contrary, she knew how to overcome each moment, and each circumstance; even with the limitations of the place she remained strong, carrying out the entrusted work.

She did a lot of work in the Kweiteh Church; the main one was the care of abandoned girls. She knew how to reach the hearts of these girls and young women whom she prepared to be future catechists who would later help in the mission.

She looked at them with love, she trusted that they could go very far and, without knowing or even imagining it, that’s how it happened. Today the Congregation of Augustinian Recollect Missionaries continues writing their story, thanks to this strong and brave woman, whom she did not have fear, she trusted in the action of the Spirit and that God would always be at her side,

Well, she was entrusting him with an important mission; she knew that God would be the Captain of that ship she had agreed to board.

Everything she experienced was unexpected for her, all her difficulties were becoming resources to carry out God’s plans. She always kept her enthusiasm for the mission despite having been left alone -without the company of Esperanza and Carmela- for just over ten years with their beloved “chinitos” and with her brothers Augustinian Recollects, whom she loved dearly and saw as holy missionaries, and to whom she kept eternal gratitude for the love and affection with which was cared for and helped materially and spiritually, especially in the most difficult moments of the mission.

Ángeles, through her tender and sensitive gaze, learned to heal many wounded hearts by hunger, poverty, injustice, and pain. The Mandarin Language, in the beginning, was a barrier that prevented her from understanding what they wanted to express, but she was not afraid, with her kindness and patience she became a balm for their lives; her gestures, her hugs, her smile, her love, her affection made up for the deficiency in understanding the language.

In these years of mission in China, every moment of her life was an opportunity to help, do good, bringing others closer to God. It was not her concern to harvest and gather fruits but to sow seeds of God’s love in each little person who came to the convent, those she visited in their houses, or those she found on the roads. She sowed and sowed, and today, after so many years after leaving their sowing work when leaving China, there are several young women who, like her, continue to become part of religious life as missionaries Augustinian Recollects in China and who want to continue bringing seeds of charity, joy, simplicity, and, above all, hope for so many human beings who have not yet know nor have they experienced in their lives the gift of knowing that they have a God Father, who loves you with infinite tenderness.

Sister Ángeles, through her dedicated life on the mission, led the “chinitos and chinitas” to experience the maternal face of God, letting them know that they were not orphans, that they had a mother, the Virgin Mary, who cared for and loved them just as they were.

It can truly be said that Sister Ángeles was committed to the mission that God had placed in her heart, mind, hands, her feet, and all her being. She wanted to be useful to God’s project. Her passion, energy, and sight, were for the people God put in her path. She understood that God was in each of them and spent her life for them.

She had to leave the China mission in 1940, but where she was sent and the places where she passed, she left a mark of God’s love and, for that reason, she will always be remembered. She will continue to be an example of service and dedication without limits.

Ángeles, after tireless dedication and service to the mission, delivered her soul to God in Granada, on December 12, 1980. For the love that her hometown has always shown her, they ask that her remains remain in the Gabia Grande cemetery (Granada, Spain).