Sister Irene Munoz, CHM, received the Barbara Boatwright Lifetime Achievement Award at the Emerge Iowa DAWN awards March 8. This award recognizes exceptional women in Iowa for their community involvement and public service. Sister Munoz has spent more than 50 years advocating for the rights of migrants as a social justice advocate.
A native of Des Moines, Sister Munoz entered the Congregation of the Humility of Mary in 1957 and made her first vows in 1959. She received a nursing degree from St. Joseph School of Nursing in Ottumwa and a master’s degree in pastoral ministry from St. Thomas Theological Seminary in Denver, Colorado. She also graduated from the Catholic Biblical School of the Archdiocese of Denver.
She received her CPE in Clinical Pastoral Education from University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. Her ministry of nursing in Iowa took her to St. Joseph Hospital in Ottumwa, Christ Child Home in Des Moines, Ottumwa Heights in Ottumwa and the Migrant Worker Center in Muscatine. Sister Munoz also worked in Hispanic ministry in the Archdiocese of Denver. She was a governor-appointed member of the Spanish-Speaking Commission of Iowa.
She has served at St. Mary of the Visitation Parish in Ottumwa since 2000 and is currently the multicultural minister for the Ottumwa area.
She told the Ottumwa Courier that she was caught off guard when she received word of the award. Now having had time to process the news, she sees it as a validation that her work in social justice has made a difference, but “I never thought I’d get an award for that.”