Global Mission

Joys and Challenges of the SSpS Mission in Spain-Portugal

Today we go to the Iberian Peninsula, where, moved by God the Holy Spirit, the SSpS work in different mission fields ranging from education and parish ministry to the presence with VIVAT International, migrants, youth and women in vulnerable situations, among others.

Spain – Geographical and sociopolitical description

Spain is located in the southeast of Europe, bordering France to the north and Portugal to the west. Territorially, it is made up of the Iberian Peninsula (almost in its entirety), the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean and the autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla in North Africa. Its capital is Madrid.

The relief of the Iberian Peninsula consists of the Central Plateau surrounded by mountain systems. There are many climates due to the orography and the layout of the coasts, so we can talk about microclimates.

Spain has a social and democratic state of law. Its political form is the parliamentary monarchy, in which the King is the Head of State, whereby there is separation between the legislative, executive and judicial powers. It has a population of approximately 47.43 million inhabitants, Moroccan immigration being the largest, followed by Latin American.


The Portuguese country is located in the western part of southern Europe, on the Iberian Peninsula, a territory it shares with Spain,, Andorra and Gibraltar. It only borders Spain and the Atlantic Ocean and includes the Madeira and Azores archipelagos. Its capital is Lisbon. The total area is 92,391 square kilometers. The country is divided into two in terms of relief. To the north of the Tagus River the mountains dominate, while to the south the plains dominate.

In the continental zone we find two climates: Mediterranean (warm summers and mild winters) and Mediterranean continental (short and hot summers and cold and long winters).

Culturally, Portugal is a fairly uniform country: one language, one identity, a common country project accepted by the entire population. This is reflected in its unitary republic.

Portugal has a population of just over 10.7 million inhabitants, of whom approximately half a million are immigrants. Portugal is considered the third most peaceful country in the world, it is in 50th place by purchasing power parity and 43rd by GDP.

Presence of the Sisters

The SSpS have been present in Spain in Ponferrada since 1951, we began our missionary service caring for the sick, later the “Colegio Espíritu Santo” was founded, dedicated to the education of children and young people. Until today we are present, although without exercising the direction of the College.

For 3 years, from 1968 we were present in Pamplona in a joint mission work with the SVDs.


In 1976 we opened a community in Alcorcón (Madrid), where we collaborated in parish tasks and in a nursery. Today, in addition to constituting our residence, for legal purposes, it welcomes the young MaZ who come to carry out their missionary experience in Spain.

In 1984 in the city of Valladolid, we established ourselves to work more actively in the pastoral ministry, missionary and vocational animation. At the same time the community is a house of religious and professional formation.

In the year of our centenary, 1989, we began our work in Portugal. First, in a retreat house of the diocese in Viseu. Later we moved to Casal de Cambra, Sintra (Lisbon) a neighborhood of social housing where the immigrant population is in the majority.

Later, another community was opened in Odivelas (Lisbon), providing our services in the parish. Little by little we opened up to collaboration with other parishes and organizations outside of our geographical environment.

After the 2019 Regional Chapter, we decided to go one step further in our collaboration with CARITAS Madrid and we agreed to be part of the Women’s Care Project in Concepción Jerónima, Madrid Capital, where we reside as of 2020.

Joys and Challenges

Our joys and challenges go hand in hand, as the popular language says. For those to whom God sends us, sharing life and mission, are the source of our joy, but they constitute our greatest challenge.

  • Education: children, youth, families, teachers, the management and administrative body of the school.
  • The parish: children and adolescents with their families, other catechists, the entire parish community.
  • Sick and elderly.
  • Migrants and asylum seekers.

  • Women, in various situations of vulnerability: due to their age, employment situation, physical or mental health, etc.
  • Young people and the vocational invitation.

  • Missionary animation, along with it the young people who want to carry out a missionary experience and have approached our Congregation in Germany and who have chosen our Region as their mission field for a year. (MaZ)

  • Political advocacy is an area that together with other member congregations of VIVAT International present in Spain we are trying to carry out.
  • Communication: we try to grow in this area and make ourselves present in this new field of mission.

Future: “The Road is Made by Walking”

The road to Santiago de Compostela, a milestone and challenge very characteristic of Spain that invites us to a spirituality that is always on the move and as the Spanish poet says: “the road is made by walking” …

Well, from there, as a Region we seek the path towards a missionary response that the reality of Europe today requires, as SSpS in communion, and with the flavor of our lands, under the gaze of Mary of Fatima.

By the Regional Leadership Team:
Srs. Carmen Elisa Bandeo,
Maria da Costa Mendes de Sousa Xavier
and Debra Sithobekile Ncube