Sister Josephine Bustos

Sister Josephine Bustos, 91, a Sister of Charity of Leavenworth (SCL), died Dec. 30, 2020, in Ross Hall at the SCL Motherhouse, Leavenworth, Kansas. Sister celebrated her 70th anniversary as an SCL in 2019. She entered the religious community soon after high school and served as a longtime educator, missionary and social worker. She was known as a lover of infants and small children, a resourceful and talented seamstress and a capable vocalist who led choirs for children and young adults. She epitomized the scriptural commandment to love God and neighbor and saw Christ in the lives of the poor and needy.

Josephine A. Bustos was born Sept. 13, 1929, in Dawson, New Mexico, the oldest of five children of Jose and Amalia (Gurule) Bustos. A strong Hispanic Catholic heritage predominated on both sides of her family. She attended Castle Grade School and Vegas High School, both in Las Vegas, New Mexico, before pursuing nursing studies at Saint Mary College, Leavenworth, Kansas. Josephine entered the SCL community Aug. 18, 1949. She professed vows as Sister Mary Anselma on Aug. 15, 1951, but eventually resumed her baptismal name.  

Sister Josephine taught in grade schools for several years in Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado. From 1954 to 1964, she also served in child care assignments in SCL orphanages in Kansas and Colorado. Fluent in Spanish from childhood, she served in an orphanage in Helena, Montana, which housed several dozen girls and boys of Cuban descent waiting on their parents to arrive in the United States.   

In 1965, her life’s ministry direction changed when she was sent to South America to teach at the Santa Rosa Escuela in Talara, Peru. She spent the next 23 years in missions as a teacher in the Talara school and later as the coordinator of parish social works and other parish ministries. She was involved in catechetical programs, prayer groups, parish choir and a baby clinic, where she once found an abandoned infant in a nearby hovel. She considered her work in Peru as her most meaningful assignment.

In 1987, Sister Josephine came back to the U.S. to serve as a personal care assistant at Mount St. Vincent Home in Denver, where she used her considerable sewing and mending talents. In 2004, she retired from active ministry and dedicated her energies to sewing and keeping up with her family, especially her younger sister and her two nieces. 

Preceding Sister Josephine in death were her parents and three of her four siblings, including two sisters, Veronica Bustos and Carmen Bustos Garcia, and one brother, Leroy Bustos. Survivors include one sister, Helen Medina, and two nieces, Theresa and Phyllis Medina, and the SCL community. 

A vigil will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in Ross Chapel, SCL Motherhouse, Leavenworth. Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated in Ross Chapel at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. Interment will follow in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Motherhouse grounds. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, attendance is restricted to only invited guests. Memorial contributions can be made to the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth, 4200 S. 4th St., Leavenworth, KS, 66048. Arrangements are by R.L. Leintz Funeral Home, Leavenworth.

Posted online on January 11, 2021