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Extension Magazine - Spring 2022

Our cover image is an original work of art symbolizing the content of this magazine. Catholic Extension is a papal society acting as a bridge-building agent for the Catholic Church in America. As such, we work in solidarity with people throughout the country, who are fulfilling their unique God-given vocations, whether as lay people, religious or clergy. The Church can never be reduced to just its formal structures and visible leaders. Rather, as Pope Francis has been pushing us to understand, the Church needs all of us together to follow our baptismal call to participate in Christ's mission of bringing good news to our world. In this edition we lift up examples of what this hope-filled, participatory, diverse and mission-driven Church has looked like in our American Catholic experience in various places and contexts.

Our cover image is an original work of art symbolizing the content of this magazine. Catholic Extension is a papal society acting as a bridge-building agent for the Catholic Church in America. As such, we work in solidarity with people throughout the country, who are fulfilling their unique God-given vocations, whether as lay people, religious or clergy.

The Church can never be reduced to just its formal structures and visible leaders. Rather, as Pope Francis has been pushing us to understand, the Church needs all of us together to follow our baptismal call to participate in Christ's mission of bringing good news to our world. In this edition we lift up examples of what this hope-filled, participatory, diverse and mission-driven Church has looked like in our American Catholic experience in various places and contexts.

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catholicextension.org<br />

STORIES OF FAITH FROM CATHOLIC EXTENSION<br />

SPRING <strong>2022</strong><br />

ALL OF US<br />

not just a few of us<br />

ARE CALLED TO DO<br />

GOD’S WORK<br />

IN THE<br />

WORLD<br />

STORIES OF HOW OUR CHURCH AND SOCIETY HAVE BEEN TRANSFORMED<br />

BY THOSE FOLLOWING THEIR GOD-GIVEN VOCATION TO LOVE AND SERVE


<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 3<br />

S T O R I E S O F F A I T H F R O M C A T H O L I C E X T E N S I O N<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> has published <strong>Extension</strong><br />

magazine since 1906 to share with our donors<br />

and friends the stories illustrating our mission:<br />

to work in solidarity with people in America’s<br />

poorest regions to build up vibrant and<br />

transformative Catholic faith communities.<br />

Contact Us<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

150 S. Wacker Dr., Suite 2000<br />

Chicago, IL 60606<br />

800.842.7804<br />

magazine@catholicextension.org<br />

catholicextension.org<br />

Board of Governors<br />

CHANCELLOR<br />

Cardinal Blase J. Cupich<br />

Archbishop of Chicago<br />

VICE CHANCELLOR<br />

Most Reverend Gerald F. Kicanas<br />

Bishop Emeritus of Tucson<br />

PRESIDENT<br />

Reverend John J. Wall<br />

VICE CHAIR OF COMMITTEES and SECRETARY<br />

Elizabeth Hartigan Connelly<br />

BOARD MEMBERS<br />

Most Reverend Gerald R. Barnes<br />

Bishop Emeritus of San Bernardino<br />

Most Reverend Steven Biegler<br />

Bishop of Cheyenne<br />

John W. Croghan<br />

Most Reverend Daniel E. Flores, STD<br />

Bishop of Brownsville<br />

Most Reverend Curtis J. Guillory, SVD<br />

Bishop Emeritus of Beaumont<br />

The Honorable James C. Kenny<br />

Most Reverend Robert N. Lynch<br />

Bishop Emeritus of St. Petersburg<br />

Peter J. McCanna<br />

Andrew J. McKenna<br />

Michael G. O’Grady<br />

Christopher Perry<br />

Andrew Reyes<br />

Karen Sauder<br />

Pamela Scholl<br />

Most Reverend Anthony B. Taylor<br />

Bishop of Little Rock<br />

Most Reverend George L. Thomas, Ph.D.<br />

Bishop of Las Vegas<br />

Most Reverend William A. Wack, CSC<br />

Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee<br />

Edward Wehmer<br />

Your investment in Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> is tax<br />

deductible to the extent allowed by law. Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> is a nonprofit 501(c)( 3 ) organization.<br />

ISSN Number: 0884-7533<br />

©<strong>2022</strong> The Catholic Church <strong>Extension</strong> Society<br />

All rights reserved.<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> is a publication provided to you and your<br />

family by Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>. If you do not wish to<br />

continue receiving <strong>Extension</strong>, e-mail magazine@<br />

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from this mailing list.<br />

God-given<br />

vocations 12<br />

Our cover image is an original work of art<br />

symbolizing the content of this magazine.<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> is a papal society,<br />

acting as a bridge-building agent for the<br />

Catholic Church in America. As such, we<br />

work in solidarity with people throughout<br />

the country, who are fulfilling their unique,<br />

God-given vocations, whether as lay<br />

people, religious or clergy.<br />

The Church can never be reduced<br />

to just its formal structures and visible<br />

leaders. Rather, as Pope Francis has been<br />

pushing us to understand, the Church<br />

needs all of us together to follow our<br />

baptismal call to participate in Christ’s<br />

mission of bringing good news to our<br />

world. In this edition we lift up examples of<br />

what this hope-filled, participatory, diverse<br />

and mission-driven Church has looked like<br />

in our American Catholic experience in<br />

various places and contexts.<br />

COVER ILLUSTRATION LUCIE RICE<br />

BUILD<br />

Support a poor parish in need<br />

this Lent 8<br />

MISSION NEEDS | In this season of prayer and almsgiving,<br />

you can help these five parishes seeking our help.<br />

Program helped struggling Catholic<br />

schools survive pandemic 10<br />

INSPIRE<br />

in the United States 12<br />

COVER STORY | How two congregations of religious men have<br />

beautifully dedicated themselves to missionary work in the<br />

United States<br />

IGNITE<br />

NEWS BRIEFS | Four Catholic schools serving mostly Native American<br />

students remain open through expert guidance offered by a Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> initiative.<br />

The impact of religious orders of men<br />

Sisters see us all as equals 24<br />

COVER STORY | Working to develop God-given potential within<br />

each person<br />

‘It’s beautiful because they are living<br />

the mission with so little’ 38<br />

PARISH PARTNERSHIPS | How a Chicago parish supports the poorest<br />

Catholic parishes in the country<br />

A legacy that carries on the work of the<br />

Church 40<br />

DONOR PROFILE | Trailblazing principal leaves gift to educate<br />

future priests<br />

Letter from Father Wall 4<br />

Seminarian profile 30<br />

Connect 42


4<br />

Letter from Father Wall<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 5<br />

Our vocation<br />

to do God’s work<br />

in the world<br />

Before beginning his public<br />

ministry, Scripture tells us that<br />

Jesus retreated to the desert for<br />

40 days of prayer and fasting.<br />

This moment in the life of<br />

Christ became the basis for our<br />

Lenten season.<br />

Before my ordination to the<br />

priesthood in 1968, I elected<br />

to retreat from the seminary<br />

for a year of discernment, to<br />

help me determine whether I<br />

was truly being called to be a<br />

priest. I found that going to the<br />

proverbial desert enabled me<br />

to hear the voice of the Lord<br />

with greater clarity.<br />

During that grace-filled time<br />

in my life, I befriended a wise<br />

person who would become<br />

one of my lifelong mentors,<br />

the late Msgr. Dan Cantwell.<br />

I remember one day having<br />

a heartfelt conversation with<br />

him regarding my future. He<br />

said, “Jack, I cannot tell you<br />

whether you should become<br />

a priest. But I can tell you that<br />

you should not become a<br />

priest if you don’t first believe<br />

in the priesthood of the<br />

faithful.” Those words have<br />

forever stayed with me.<br />

Only three years earlier,<br />

the Second Vatican Council<br />

had developed what would<br />

become a seminal teaching<br />

document called “Lumen<br />

Gentium,” which reoriented<br />

our thinking on what a<br />

“vocation” is and how it is<br />

properly exercised. It turns out<br />

all of us, not just a few of us,<br />

are called to do God’s work in<br />

the world.<br />

The council fathers helped<br />

us see that the vocation of<br />

the “ministerial priesthood”<br />

and the vocation of the<br />

“priesthood of the faithful”<br />

(meaning all baptized people)<br />

are not on two different<br />

wavelengths. Rather, they are<br />

closely interrelated because<br />

each is a “participation in the<br />

one priesthood of Christ.” All<br />

the baptized faithful exercise<br />

their “priesthood” through<br />

prayer and “witness of a holy<br />

life, and by self-denial and<br />

active charity,” the council<br />

told us.<br />

This is what Msgr. Cantwell<br />

was trying to make sure I fully<br />

comprehended if I were to be<br />

ordained a priest.<br />

This magazine attempts<br />

to show you the good that<br />

comes about when both the<br />

ministerial priesthood and<br />

the priesthood of the faithful<br />

embrace their respective<br />

vocations. They do not exist<br />

in competition with one<br />

another. They complement<br />

one another.<br />

You will read stories about<br />

ordained people, religious<br />

women and men, and<br />

laypeople who have accepted<br />

God’s calling and have worked<br />

hard to bring about hope<br />

and transformation in the<br />

poorest regions of the country.<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> supports<br />

all their vocations.<br />

• Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> has<br />

always supported the<br />

ministerial priesthood<br />

through our close<br />

collaboration with bishops<br />

in <strong>Extension</strong> dioceses, our<br />

funding of missionary<br />

priests serving in far-flung<br />

communities and our<br />

funding of the education of<br />

hundreds of seminarians<br />

each year.<br />

• Simultaneously, Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> fully supports<br />

the gift of religious life<br />

through our partnership<br />

with countless religious<br />

women and men working in<br />

solidarity with God’s people<br />

throughout the country.<br />

• And, in a very special way,<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> supports<br />

the largest priesthood,<br />

namely all the baptized<br />

faithful, by funding the<br />

salaries and education of<br />

lay leaders in the Church,<br />

investing in youth and<br />

young adult leaders and<br />

funding ministries that help<br />

families raise their children<br />

in the Catholic faith.<br />

I constantly remind our<br />

staff members at Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> that they must have<br />

“vocational sense” about what<br />

they do, in the hope that they<br />

see their work not just as a job<br />

or career but as something that<br />

is significant for the future of<br />

our Church and country.<br />

I share that same sentiment<br />

with all of you, our donors,<br />

who have embraced our<br />

mission. I hope you too feel a<br />

vocational sense about your<br />

choice to support us. In doing<br />

so you are affirming your<br />

own vocation as a baptized<br />

person called to charity and<br />

generosity, and your support<br />

is affirming the vocations of<br />

the thousands of people in<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> dioceses whom you<br />

are helping.<br />

Our Lenten season calls<br />

us to prayer and reflection,<br />

LEFT Father Jack Wall connects with parishioners in the<br />

Diocese of Little Rock, Arkansas.<br />

ABOVE Father Jack Wall (left) as a young priest with his<br />

mentor, the late Msgr. Dan Cantwell, in the Archdiocese<br />

of Chicago.<br />

as well as sacrifice through<br />

almsgiving, fasting and<br />

abstaining. And so, my<br />

sincerest prayer for this Lenten<br />

season is that God may bless<br />

all of you for the gift of prayer<br />

and almsgiving that you have<br />

already provided us.<br />

May this Lenten season<br />

prepare us to receive Christ’s<br />

gift of self-sacrificial love,<br />

which leads to a whole new<br />

creation—a whole new way of<br />

being human—and brings us<br />

into closer communion with<br />

God and one another.<br />

May God bless you and all<br />

whom you love,<br />

Father Jack Wall<br />

PRESIDENT, CATHOLIC EXTENSION


<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 7<br />

MISSION NEEDS 8 | NEWS BRIEFS 10<br />

Good news from<br />

around the country<br />

BECOME A<br />

TWO BY TWO<br />

PARTNER<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s premier leadership<br />

annual giving society with exclusive benefits.<br />

This esteemed group of individuals represents our most<br />

engaged, dedicated and loyal annual giving donors who<br />

make an annual contribution of at least $1,000.<br />

Benefits provide access to the following:<br />

• Lumen Christi Award judging<br />

• <strong>Extension</strong> <strong>Magazine</strong><br />

• Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> Annual Report<br />

• Mid-Year Impact Report<br />

• Regular email updates<br />

For more information:<br />

CONTACT<br />

Shea Gilliland<br />

Manager of Development<br />

817.371.7826<br />

sgilliland@catholicextension.org<br />

VISIT our website at<br />

catholicextension.org/2by2<br />

St. Joseph’s<br />

Parish in<br />

Mayfield,<br />

Kentucky, became<br />

a relief center<br />

after tornadoes<br />

destroyed the<br />

town in December<br />

2021. Parishioners<br />

like Freddy<br />

Gonzalez walked<br />

door to door to<br />

assess people’s<br />

needs and deliver<br />

aid. See News<br />

Briefs, page 10.


8 BUILD Mission Needs<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 9<br />

Guam<br />

Marshall Islands<br />

Samoa-Pago Pago<br />

Chalan Kanoa<br />

Alaska<br />

WHITERIVER, ARIZONA<br />

St. Francis Church<br />

serves roughly 280<br />

people on the Fort<br />

Apache Reservation.<br />

This church, along<br />

with St. Catherine<br />

in Cibecue, was<br />

staffed for 80 years<br />

by Franciscan<br />

priests. Since the Franciscans’ departure<br />

two years ago, the Diocese of Gallup has<br />

been tasked with staffing new priests to<br />

serve this faith community. Your donation will<br />

support the salary of Father John Cormack,<br />

whose ministry serves this Native American<br />

community.<br />

PLEASE SUPPORT<br />

LENTEN ALMSGIVING<br />

OPPORTUNITIES<br />

MILAN, MISSOURI<br />

St. Mary Mission<br />

Parish in the Diocese<br />

of Jefferson City is in<br />

desperate need of a<br />

new parish hall and<br />

office space. The<br />

current office space is<br />

in this manufactured<br />

home from 1991,<br />

which also serves as the parish rectory.<br />

Your donation will go toward a new parish<br />

hall for this vibrant faith community seeking<br />

adequate facilities to serve their community.<br />

CATHOLIC EXTENSION<br />

MISSION AREAS<br />

PROJECTS IN MISSION AREAS<br />

THAT NEED YOUR SUPPORT<br />

NON-MISSION AREAS<br />

ISSION NEEDS<br />

Hawaii<br />

Your donation will support a poor parish in need this Lent and help keep the presence of<br />

the Catholic Church strong in our country. These parishes are among hundreds supported<br />

by Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> that are located in low-income communities or in areas where<br />

Catholics are a minority. To contribute to one of these projects, please contact us at<br />

magazine@catholicextension.org or call 1-800-842-7804.<br />

Your donation will be applied to a similar need should your specified project be fully funded before we<br />

receive your support. Thank you for your compassion toward those we serve.<br />

HUGO, OKLAHOMA<br />

Immaculate Conception,<br />

a mission church on<br />

the Oklahoma-Texas<br />

border in the Diocese of<br />

Tulsa, was the 10,000th<br />

church to be built in<br />

the United States with<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

funding. Dedicated<br />

in 1992, this faith community is located in<br />

an area where more than 40 percent of the<br />

population lives below the poverty line. Your<br />

support will help this 85-family parish pay for<br />

its operating expenses, parish retreats and<br />

new hymnals.<br />

JENKINS, KENTUCKY<br />

Located in the<br />

Appalachian Mountains<br />

in eastern Kentucky,<br />

Jenkins was chosen<br />

by Mother Teresa as<br />

the location for her first<br />

convent in the rural<br />

United States. Three<br />

Missionaries of Charity<br />

sisters serve this faith community through social<br />

outreach in partnership with St. George Catholic<br />

Church. Your donation will help support a muchneeded<br />

subsidy for the church to operate.<br />

HOUMA, LOUISIANA<br />

Despite its own financial<br />

needs as a parish, St.<br />

Lucy Catholic Church<br />

in the Diocese of<br />

Houma-Thibodaux<br />

continues to open its<br />

doors to a community in<br />

need. Parishioners serve meals and distribute<br />

groceries to combat hunger. Help support this<br />

parish, the only Black Catholic church in the<br />

Houma area, so it can continue to extend God’s<br />

love throughout the community.<br />

Puerto Rico<br />

St. Thomas-<br />

Virgin Islands


10<br />

BUILD <strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 11<br />

News Briefs<br />

HIGHLIGHTS<br />

Dress Celebrates<br />

Faith and Culture<br />

A young woman from<br />

a parish supported by<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> in<br />

the Diocese of Yakima,<br />

Washington won a<br />

national dressmaking<br />

contest by creating a<br />

magnificent folkloric<br />

dress inspired by<br />

her native culture<br />

and Catholic faith.<br />

See the inspiring<br />

video by visiting<br />

catholicextension.<br />

org/larissa.<br />

Cardinal Cupich visits Puerto Rico<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s chancellor, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, traveled<br />

to Puerto Rico in October 2021 to advocate on behalf of the Puerto<br />

Rican Church. The Church sustained significant damage after<br />

Hurricanes Maria and Irma struck the island in 2017, followed by<br />

a series of catastrophic earthquakes in 2020. This was the cardinal’s<br />

second visit after having been sent there by Pope Francis in<br />

December 2017. The Holy Father asked the cardinal to keep him<br />

apprised of the situation. In the aftermath of these disasters, Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> organized an islandwide disaster recovery team<br />

to serve all six of Puerto Rico’s dioceses. With the help of these<br />

recovery experts, our goal is to enable dioceses to access federal<br />

funding to rebuild nearly 1,000 Catholic churches and schools.<br />

“Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> is committed to walking with the Church in<br />

Puerto Rico and has boldly stepped forward to help the bishops<br />

on the island navigate the complex process of applying for recovery<br />

funding,” Cardinal Cupich said.<br />

LIVE THE LENTEN<br />

JOURNEY<br />

NATIONWIDE<br />

In this time of prayer,<br />

fasting and almsgiving,<br />

all are invited to join our<br />

Lenten video series, which<br />

features weekly reflections<br />

and Gospel readings<br />

proclaimed by priests<br />

in diverse communities<br />

supported by our donors.<br />

This series is part of our<br />

Thriving Congregations<br />

Initiative, made possible<br />

through support from<br />

Lilly Endowment Inc. Visit<br />

catholicextension.org/<br />

lentenjourney to join<br />

the series.<br />

PARISH ASSISTS<br />

VANDALIZED CHURCH<br />

MISSISSIPPI<br />

Last year St. Therese of<br />

Lisieux Church, a 90-yearold<br />

parish in Gulfport,<br />

Mississippi, was chronically<br />

victimized by vandals.<br />

Their air conditioning units<br />

were stolen so that their<br />

copper pipes could be<br />

harvested. Nonetheless,<br />

the parish kept their food<br />

pantry services open to the<br />

needy. Thanks to help from<br />

one of Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s<br />

parish partners, St.<br />

Theresa Church in Florida,<br />

the Mississippi parish’s<br />

facilities are secure and fully<br />

functioning once again.<br />

TORNADO-STRUCK<br />

COMMUNITIES<br />

KENTUCKY<br />

The Diocese of Owensboro,<br />

Kentucky, heroically<br />

responded to communities<br />

devastated by the tornadoes<br />

that struck western<br />

Kentucky shortly before<br />

Christmas. Resurrection<br />

Parish in Dawson <strong>Spring</strong>s,<br />

built with support from<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>, was<br />

among the many destroyed<br />

buildings in the area.<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> will continue to<br />

work in solidarity with the<br />

diocese as it recovers and<br />

continues to serve<br />

its people.<br />

NEW CATHOLIC<br />

STUDENT CENTER<br />

COLORADO<br />

Catholic students at the University<br />

of Colorado at Colorado<br />

<strong>Spring</strong>s are now able<br />

to worship together in a new<br />

campus ministry center. This<br />

is the first Catholic chapel<br />

and student center for the<br />

rapidly growing university.<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> supported<br />

this ministry’s building<br />

project, which is among the<br />

130 college campus ministries<br />

in 68 dioceses supported<br />

by our donors in the past<br />

10 years alone.<br />

PROGRAM HELPED STRUGGLING CATHOLIC SCHOOLS SURVIVE PANDEMIC<br />

Thanks to Catholic School Management, a division of<br />

Christian Brothers Services, four Catholic schools that<br />

largely serve Native American students in the Diocese of<br />

Gallup, New Mexico, report remaining financially solvent<br />

throughout the pandemic. Their enrollment, which initially<br />

plummeted, has returned to pre-pandemic levels. The four-year<br />

program funded by Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> promotes long-term viability<br />

of schools by improving the effectiveness of school boards, communications,<br />

fundraising and enrollment management. Religious Sister<br />

of Charity Marsha Moon, principal of St. Anthony’s School in Zuni,<br />

New Mexico, said, “We were able to develop a strategic plan, which<br />

not only speaks to now but also projects into the future.”<br />

NEWS BRIEFS


<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 13<br />

INSPIRE Features of faith<br />

FIRST LAYPERSON TO LEAD SEPI 18 | FORDHAM UNIVERSITY 20 LATIN AMERICAN SISTERS DISCUSS VOCATION 24 | SEMINARIAN RANDY TEJADA 30<br />

Today, in the 87<br />

dioceses supported<br />

by Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>,<br />

there are 2,300<br />

religious priests and<br />

brothers.<br />

Religious life is a<br />

dynamic institution<br />

in Catholicism. It<br />

continues to evolve<br />

over the ages and across the Earth in<br />

response to the promptings of the Holy<br />

Spirit and in response to the needs of the<br />

Church and world.<br />

The Benedictines have been a religious<br />

community for almost 1,500 years. The<br />

Franciscans have been around for more<br />

than 800 years. The Jesuits just celebrated<br />

500 years of existence. Each group of<br />

religious has gifted us with its unique<br />

charisms and contributions.<br />

Much of the narrative lately on<br />

religious men has centered on their<br />

dwindling numbers and the subsequent<br />

withdrawal of religious priests and brothers<br />

from the missions, institutions and<br />

places that they once staffed and served.<br />

Presently, there is half the number of<br />

religious priests in the United States<br />

(about 10,300 today) than there was 50<br />

years ago, and about a third the number<br />

of religious brothers ( 3,800 today) than a<br />

half century ago, according to the Center<br />

for Applied Research in the Apostolate at<br />

Georgetown University.<br />

This, indeed, represents a seismic shift<br />

in the Catholic Church in the United<br />

States that has many ramifications. But<br />

a case can be made that the causes<br />

that these religious men espoused, the<br />

missions they founded and the values<br />

and faith they shared with generations<br />

of people remain alive and well in many<br />

parts of our Church, even when these<br />

religious men are no longer present.<br />

Meanwhile, the religious men who<br />

remain in active ministry in <strong>Extension</strong><br />

dioceses continue to strengthen the<br />

foundation of faith and leadership among<br />

the people they serve, which will not<br />

easily collapse if these religious men are<br />

no longer around.<br />

In this article, we acknowledge<br />

two congregations of religious men in<br />

particular that have beautifully dedicated<br />

themselves to missionary work here<br />

in this country and continue to do so<br />

in extraordinary ways. The Missionary<br />

Oblates of Mary Immaculate and the Missionary<br />

Servants of the Most Holy Trinity<br />

have worked side by side with Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> over the past century to serve<br />

the Church in the poorest regions. We<br />

are happy to report that the fruits of their<br />

efforts both past and present continue to<br />

impact the Church in America.<br />

THE IMPACT OF<br />

RELIGIOUS ORDERS<br />

OF MEN IN<br />

THE UNITED STATES<br />

RIGHT Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> supported the “Cavalry of Christ,” horseback priests of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate


14 INSPIRE<br />

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f<br />

or many decades, the<br />

Missionary Oblates of<br />

Mary Immaculate, a<br />

missionary congregation<br />

of religious men, have<br />

collaborated closely with<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> to<br />

serve Catholic faith communities<br />

in many dioceses.<br />

St. Eugene de Mazenod, a<br />

French priest, founded the congregation<br />

in 1816. Today, nearly 4,000<br />

Oblate priests and brothers serve<br />

in 60 countries. Pope Pius XI once<br />

referred to the Oblates as “specialists<br />

of the most difficult missions,”<br />

which is undoubtedly what<br />

brought them from France to the<br />

peripheries and frontier lands of<br />

this country.<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> first joined<br />

forces with the Oblates by supporting<br />

their missionary priests working<br />

along the U.S.–Mexico border.<br />

These iconic horseback-riding<br />

priests were aptly nicknamed the<br />

“Cavalry of Christ.” The first funds<br />

that Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> ever raised<br />

shortly after its founding in 1905<br />

were directed to support Oblate<br />

priests at La Lomita Chapel, a historical<br />

mission church located<br />

on the banks of the Rio Grande<br />

in Texas. The chapel continues<br />

to be served by Oblate priests. In<br />

fact, in 2019 Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

named La Lomita’s pastor, Father<br />

Roy Snipes, OMI, as a 2019 Lumen<br />

Christi Award finalist. The incomparable<br />

“cowboy priest” is rarely<br />

seen without his signature Stetson<br />

hat, his dog Bendito (Spanish<br />

for “blessed”) and his University<br />

of Texas A&M attire. He<br />

relishes his role as pastor of Our<br />

Lady of Guadalupe Parish in Mission,<br />

Texas (which includes La Lo-<br />

RIGHT Father Roy Snipes, OMI,<br />

serves as pastor in the Diocese of<br />

Brownsville, Texas.<br />

mita), where there is great fervor<br />

among the people. Father Snipes<br />

regularly takes his old pontoon for<br />

rides along the Rio Grande, seemingly<br />

undistracted and undeterred<br />

by the hovering drones and watchtowers<br />

closely surveilling him.<br />

Oblate priests have long been<br />

immersed in the realities of the<br />

U.S.–Mexico border. In 1914 many<br />

refugees, including priests and religious,<br />

fled Mexico on account of<br />

the Mexican government’s<br />

persecution<br />

of the Catholic<br />

Church. Father<br />

Henri Constantineau,<br />

treasurer of<br />

the Southern Province<br />

of the Oblates,<br />

went personally<br />

to Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>’s offices<br />

in Chicago<br />

to appeal for special<br />

assistance on<br />

behalf of the refugees.<br />

Archbishop<br />

James Quigley<br />

of Chicago, then Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s<br />

chancellor, was so moved by<br />

the Oblate priest’s words that he<br />

gave him $5,000 of immediate aid<br />

($140,000 in today’s dollars), representing<br />

the first funding in a decades-long<br />

commitment of Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> to Mexican exiles<br />

fleeing religious persecution.<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> continues to<br />

support the Oblates in the border<br />

region, mainly in the present-day<br />

dioceses of Brownsville, Texas, and<br />

Laredo, Texas. This includes years<br />

THE MISSIONARY OBLATES<br />

OF MARY IMMACULATE<br />

‘SPECIALISTS<br />

OF THE MOST<br />

DIFFICULT<br />

MISSIONS’<br />

of support for the recently retired<br />

Father Bill Davis, OMI, a beloved<br />

pastor of San Francisco Javier Mission<br />

Church in Laredo—a poor parish,<br />

but one rich in faith. Likewise,<br />

in 2020 Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> funded<br />

the renovation of three Oblate-operated<br />

missions near Roma, Texas,<br />

where Father Pablo Wilhelm, OMI,<br />

serves a very young Catholic community.<br />

The funds for this project<br />

were raised by Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s<br />

parish partner St. Paul the Apostle<br />

in Gurnee, Illinois.<br />

A FAR-REACHING MISSIONARY<br />

SPIRIT<br />

The Oblates are versatile missionaries.<br />

This has led them to<br />

Alaska, where to this day some of<br />

the missions of the Archdiocese of<br />

Anchorage-Juneau are staffed by<br />

Oblate priests supported by Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>. Among the Oblate<br />

missionaries in the state is Archbishop<br />

Emeritus Roger Schweitz,<br />

OMI, who served as archbishop in<br />

Alaska from 2001 to 2016. Many<br />

Alaskan missions are not accessible<br />

by road, and Archbishop<br />

Schweitz, possessing the same<br />

ABOVE In 2003, then-<br />

Archbishop Roger<br />

Schweitz, OMI, prepares<br />

to travel by plane to<br />

isolated parishes in Alaska.<br />

LEFT Father Roger<br />

Bergkamp, OMI, pictured<br />

here in 2013, is among the<br />

Oblates who have served<br />

parishes supported by<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> in the<br />

Archdiocese of Anchorage-<br />

Juneau, Alaska.<br />

missionary spirit of the horseback-riding<br />

priests a century ago,<br />

obtained his pilot’s license so he<br />

could fly himself to those regions<br />

whenever necessary.<br />

The Oblates also have a well-established<br />

presence in Belleville, Illinois,<br />

another <strong>Extension</strong> diocese.<br />

They are best known there for their<br />

operation of the National Shrine of<br />

Our Lady of the Snows—a place of<br />

prayer and pilgrimage. They also<br />

staff missions in the surrounding<br />

area, such as Holy Rosary Parish in<br />

Fairmont City, Illinois, where Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> funds the salary of a<br />

bilingual Oblate priest, Father Harold<br />

Fisher, OMI.<br />

Perhaps the most prominent<br />

Oblate was Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s<br />

late chancellor, Cardinal Francis<br />

George, OMI. Prior to becoming the<br />

chancellor of Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>,<br />

Cardinal George served as bishop<br />

in the Diocese of Yakima, Washington,<br />

another <strong>Extension</strong> diocese.<br />

Cardinal George used that experience<br />

as a “mission bishop” to<br />

guide his role at Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>.<br />

Whenever he was making a<br />

decision on behalf of Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>,<br />

he would recollect what<br />

it was like to be a new bishop in<br />

a poor diocese. This, coupled with<br />

his formation as a missionary,<br />

drove his thought process.<br />

Near the end of his tenure as<br />

chancellor in 2014, in an interview<br />

with <strong>Extension</strong> magazine<br />

he said, “Faith is a gift. … If people<br />

don’t have faith, what do they<br />

have? Where do they turn for an<br />

understanding of who God is and<br />

who they are? Christ wants everybody<br />

in the world, whom he died<br />

to save, to know Him. … Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> has been a very generous<br />

means to help the Church<br />

achieve that goal for the last hundred<br />

years.”<br />

The Oblates instinctively understand<br />

the wisdom of Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s<br />

mission of building vibrant<br />

and transformative Catholic<br />

faith communities in the poorest<br />

regions of America. Their collaboration<br />

with Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>, no<br />

doubt, has been a great benefit to<br />

the Church in this country, especially<br />

in the most difficult circumstances<br />

and challenging places.


16 INSPIRE<br />

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catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s<br />

mission has been advanced<br />

in countless<br />

places and times by the<br />

presence of the Missionary<br />

Servants of the Most Holy Trinity,<br />

a religious congregation of men<br />

founded in the United States who<br />

recently celebrated their centennial<br />

anniversary.<br />

Their founder, Father Thomas<br />

Judge, was born in Boston. In 1915,<br />

as a young Vincentian priest, he<br />

was assigned to Alabama. There he<br />

felt called to create a movement<br />

that would encourage lay Catholics<br />

to be evangelizers of the faith. He<br />

believed this movement to be especially<br />

critical in an area like the<br />

Deep South, where Catholics were<br />

a small minority.<br />

Long before the Second Vatican<br />

Council unequivocally affirmed<br />

the indispensable role of the laity<br />

in the Church, Father Judge understood<br />

that every Catholic, by virtue<br />

of baptism, is called to be, in his<br />

words, “an apostle.”<br />

Today the Missionary Servants<br />

work in myriad U.S. dioceses, including<br />

those supported by Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>, and in dioceses in<br />

Latin America and the Caribbean.<br />

In each place and each cultural<br />

context where they are present,<br />

the Missionary Servants pursue the<br />

vision of their founder by encouraging<br />

laypeople to step forward as<br />

leaders and evangelizers in their<br />

communities. The results are undeniable.<br />

MISSIONARY SERVANTS<br />

OF THE MOST HOLY TRINITY<br />

RELIGIOUS<br />

MEN WHO<br />

FORM LAY<br />

‘APOSTLES’<br />

RIGHT Father<br />

Seraphim Molina<br />

S.T., leads St.<br />

Kateri Tekakwitha<br />

Parish in prayer<br />

in the Diocese of<br />

Tucson, Arizona.<br />

He served this<br />

parish for 12 years.<br />

ishes like Sacred Heart in Camden,<br />

Mississippi, where they serve the<br />

Black Catholic community. More<br />

than providing subsidies to maintain<br />

the status quo, we have partnered<br />

with the Missionary Servants<br />

to support a community<br />

where the laypeople have become<br />

a sizeable force of transformation<br />

in an impoverished area. Parishioners<br />

have created a lively community<br />

of faith that energizes their<br />

work, which includes providing<br />

thousands of meals each year, offering<br />

after-school programs for<br />

kids and caring for elders, among<br />

many other charitable services.<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> has also<br />

been privileged to support the<br />

work of the Missionary Servants<br />

at St. Kateri Tekakwitha Parish<br />

among the Pascua Yaqui tribe,<br />

whose ancestral lands are near<br />

Tucson, Arizona, in the Sonoran<br />

Desert.<br />

Missionaries first came to this<br />

area 400 years ago, and something<br />

very interesting happened.<br />

The Pascua Yaqui people developed<br />

their own system of religious<br />

leadership that did not rely on foreign<br />

clergy to sustain the faith. To<br />

this day, the laity have special titles<br />

that designate their roles in leading<br />

community prayers, songs and<br />

devotions as well as visiting the<br />

sick and dying. When the Missionary<br />

Servants arrived in this community,<br />

they understood the significance<br />

of these lay leaders as the<br />

primary teachers of the faith and<br />

continued to support them.<br />

Our Lady of Soledad Catholic<br />

Church in Coachella, California, is<br />

another location where the Mis-<br />

This cabin chapel in rural Alabama is where<br />

the founder of the Missionary Servants<br />

of the Most Holy Trinity, Father Thomas<br />

Judge, CM, launched a movement of lay<br />

women and men missionaries in 1917.<br />

ABOVE The Missionary Servants of the<br />

Most Holy Trinity encourage all Catholics<br />

to be ‘lay apostles.” In the Coachella Valley,<br />

parishioners served by the Missionary<br />

Servants gather by the thousands for an<br />

annual 30-mile pilgrimage in honor of Our<br />

Lady of Guadalupe.<br />

STRENGTHENING PARISHES<br />

AND LEADERS<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> has been<br />

honored to support the work of<br />

the Missionary Servants in parsionary<br />

Servants encouraged the<br />

role of the laity with great success.<br />

On holy days and cultural feast<br />

days, as many as 10,000 people<br />

make their way through the parish<br />

doors. This required the construction<br />

of a bigger church, one<br />

that seats more than 1,200<br />

people at a time. Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> donors contributed<br />

toward this project.<br />

Many parishioners in<br />

Coachella are Latino and<br />

work the low-paying jobs<br />

in the nearby crop fields,<br />

but this has not stopped<br />

the laity from understanding<br />

that they have a special<br />

role to play in their<br />

community.<br />

The parish is growing thanks to<br />

the commitment of the laypeople<br />

who have been animated and affirmed<br />

by their priests. A prime example<br />

is the Valley Missionary Program,<br />

a lay volunteer organization<br />

of the parish, which for nearly 40<br />

years has served 15,000 people<br />

in the outlying communities. The<br />

program operates 150 small faith<br />

communities and supports a parish-based<br />

shelter that has helped<br />

thousands of migrants.<br />

With the support of the Missionary<br />

Servants, these parishioners are<br />

fulfilling the vision of the Second<br />

Vatican Council, which called upon<br />

all laypeople to “zealously participate<br />

in the saving work of the<br />

Church.”<br />

THE MISSION CONTINUES<br />

TO UNFOLD<br />

In 2021 Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> partnered<br />

with the Missionary Servants<br />

of the Most Holy Trinity to pilot a<br />

program in response to the worsening<br />

opioid crisis in this country. To<br />

date, leaders from three <strong>Extension</strong><br />

dioceses—Youngstown, Ohio; Santa<br />

Fe, New Mexico; and Cheyenne,<br />

Wyoming—participated in the<br />

iTHIRST program. The Missionary<br />

Servants developed this program<br />

to help more parish lay leaders effectively<br />

work with those suffering<br />

from addictions and their families<br />

and promote more parish recovery<br />

ministries.<br />

Father Judge’s dream remains<br />

alive and well, as laypeople in the<br />

diverse parishes and regions served<br />

by the Missionary Servants are encouraged<br />

to lean into what Father<br />

Judge called “a missionary spirit, an<br />

evangelical burning.” The Church<br />

is better off because ordinary people<br />

in communities that are often<br />

written off have accepted this calling<br />

to be a transformative force in<br />

the world.


18 INSPIRE<br />

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DR. OLGA VILLAR BECOMES<br />

FIRST LAYPERSON TO LEAD<br />

SOUTHEAST PASTORAL INSTITUTE<br />

A PIONEERING<br />

WOMAN IN MINISTRY<br />

gression. “I feel honored to be the<br />

first one to make this transition.<br />

It’s like coming of age,” said Villar.<br />

She steps into SEPI’s executive<br />

leadership position with many<br />

aspirations, aiming to empower<br />

Catholics to be well formed in their<br />

faith and ready to lead in their<br />

communities. She plans to focus<br />

on the Church’s youth. Villar remembers<br />

being a teenager searching<br />

for mentorship and inspiration<br />

in her faith, which she found<br />

through SEPI.<br />

“Empowering young people is<br />

where my passion is at this moment,”<br />

Villar said. “It’s about going<br />

back to see myself as a 14-year-old,<br />

18-year-old or 20-plus and connecting<br />

with those young people<br />

that I see across the Southeast.”<br />

Villar plans to carry on the mission<br />

that SEPI initiated more than<br />

four decades ago by its founders,<br />

the Piarist Fathers. This religious<br />

congregation of men continues to<br />

inspire her.<br />

In addition to working with<br />

youth and forming lay leaders in<br />

southeastern dioceses, Villar is<br />

spearheading a multi-diocesan<br />

program—supported by Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>—that will help form<br />

ABOVE Father Jack<br />

Wall listens to Dr.<br />

Olga Villar speak at<br />

an <strong>Extension</strong>-hosted<br />

convening of Catholic<br />

leaders in ministry.<br />

RIGHT Dr. Olga Villar<br />

visits with children in<br />

central Mississippi<br />

who are part of a<br />

healing program for<br />

immigrant families.<br />

The program is made<br />

possible through<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s<br />

collaboration with the<br />

Southeast Pastoral<br />

Institute.<br />

dr. Olga Lucía Villar<br />

was appointed executive<br />

director of the<br />

Southeast Pastoral Institute<br />

(SEPI) in November<br />

2021. She is<br />

the first lay leader<br />

and woman to be appointed to the<br />

top position of the Miami-based<br />

organization. SEPI, which was<br />

founded in 1979, provides education<br />

and pastoral services to Hispanic<br />

Catholics in 30 dioceses<br />

across nine states in the southeastern<br />

United States. The bishops<br />

of these member dioceses govern<br />

SEPI and appointed Villar to the<br />

position.<br />

The collaboration between<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> and SEPI over<br />

the years has been strong and mutually<br />

beneficial. SEPI’s region<br />

covers 15 <strong>Extension</strong> dioceses, and<br />

the organization shares Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>’s goals to develop leaders,<br />

form young Catholics and animate<br />

the Church at the grassroots<br />

level, especially among marginalized<br />

populations.<br />

From the beginning, SEPI’s mission<br />

has been to form lay leaders<br />

in the Church. So, becoming a layled<br />

organization was a natural promany<br />

new Spanish-speaking deacons.<br />

Additionally, she and Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> continue to collaborate<br />

on a trauma recovery and healing<br />

program for 700 families and children<br />

in central Mississippi who<br />

were separated or impacted by the<br />

largest immigration raid in U.S. history<br />

in 2019.<br />

PREPARED FOR LEADERSHIP<br />

WITH EXTENSION SUPPORT<br />

Villar is well equipped to address<br />

the diverse needs of the dioceses<br />

SEPI serves. She has inter-<br />

mittently taught courses at SEPI<br />

for 22 years, and she has also been<br />

prepared for leadership with help<br />

from Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>. Villar was<br />

first introduced to Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

in 2012 when she began as the<br />

director of Hispanic ministry in the<br />

Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama.<br />

She had great success in this ministry,<br />

particularly in engaging Catholics<br />

who had been disconnected<br />

from the Church. Her position was<br />

created and funded by Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

donors.<br />

She says that apart from just<br />

Dr. Olga Villar visits<br />

a rural community<br />

in Alabama that<br />

had been praying<br />

together in a shed<br />

before she helped<br />

integrate them into a<br />

local parish.<br />

funding her salary, Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

gave her the opportunity<br />

to grow as a leader through education<br />

and dialogue with other leaders<br />

who, like her, were funded by<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>.<br />

“I realized that I needed to have<br />

more dialogue between academics<br />

and pastoral ministry to be able to<br />

enrich my experience and be able<br />

to pass it on in a better way,” Villar<br />

said. “That was given to me by<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>.”<br />

After attending a summer education<br />

program in Hispanic ministry<br />

at Boston College, a program<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> invited her to<br />

participate in, Villar understood<br />

how crucial an advanced, higher-education<br />

experience could be<br />

for her ministry.<br />

She went on to earn her doctorate<br />

in Hispanic pastoral ministry in<br />

2016 from Barry University in Miami<br />

Shores, writing her thesis on<br />

the same faith communities she<br />

was serving in Alabama at the time.<br />

Throughout her time in Alabama,<br />

Villar also grew professionally<br />

through regular convenings of<br />

leaders in Hispanic ministry hosted<br />

by Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>. She deeply<br />

appreciated the enriching opportunity<br />

of getting to know other leaders<br />

who were ministering throughout<br />

the country.<br />

“It was about making sure that I<br />

listen to different voices throughout<br />

the country, because it is important,”<br />

Villar said. “Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

empowered me in that way.”<br />

During those formative years<br />

as an <strong>Extension</strong>-sponsored leader,<br />

she met colleagues she refers to as<br />

some of the closest people with<br />

whom she journeys in the Church.<br />

Getting to see all the “amazing people”<br />

in Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s various<br />

leadership initiatives reinforces in<br />

her the importance of finding leaders<br />

for SEPI who have been transformed<br />

through their own experiences<br />

making an impact in their<br />

faith communities.<br />

“Once you join the Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

family, you want more people<br />

to be involved in whatever way<br />

they can be involved,” Villar said.<br />

“Each person is touching several<br />

others and making an impact on<br />

others.”


20 INSPIRE<br />

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<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 21<br />

The following story, written by<br />

Tom Stoelker and reprinted<br />

with permission from Fordham<br />

News, focuses on two<br />

current Fordham University<br />

students with ties to Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>:<br />

Bishop Ryan Jimenez and Edgar<br />

Guzmán.<br />

For over 50 years, Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

has proudly worked with Fordham<br />

to support scholarships for students<br />

from <strong>Extension</strong> dioceses seeking<br />

degrees at the Graduate School<br />

of Religion and Religious Education.<br />

Since 2012, Fordham has been a partner<br />

institution in Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s<br />

Young Adult Leadership Initiative,<br />

which offers theology degree scholarships<br />

to students from <strong>Extension</strong> dioceses.<br />

The initiative enables these dioceses<br />

to retain, educate and develop<br />

new generations of outstanding young<br />

adult leaders.<br />

Bishop Jimenez, who is working<br />

toward a doctorate with tuition assistance<br />

from Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>, leads<br />

the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa located<br />

in the Northern Mariana Islands, a<br />

commonwealth of the United States<br />

in the western Pacific Ocean. Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> has supported this island<br />

diocese since its inception in late 1984.<br />

“It is important for me to put into<br />

my context of ministry the theories<br />

learned through this graduate program,”<br />

Bishop Jimenez told Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>. “I believe that this continuing<br />

formation will help me be a better<br />

shepherd to the flock entrusted to me.”<br />

Meanwhile, Guzmán is pursuing<br />

his master’s in theology at Fordham<br />

as one of Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s Young<br />

Adult Leadership Initiative scholars.<br />

He also serves as director of campus<br />

and young adult ministries for St. Paul<br />

Catholic Newman Center at California<br />

State University, Fresno in the <strong>Extension</strong>-supported<br />

Diocese of Fresno.<br />

PHOTOS COURTESY OF DIOCESE OF CHALAN KANOA<br />

GRADUATE STUDIES AT FORDHAM UNIVERSITY<br />

PROVIDE CATHOLIC LEADERS OPPORTUNITY<br />

TO ENHANCE MINISTRY<br />

FAR LEFT Along with shepherding the Diocese<br />

of Chalan Kanoa and pursuing a doctoral<br />

degree at Fordham University, Bishop Ryan<br />

Jimenez ran the Chicago Marathon in 2021.<br />

LEFT Bishop Ryan Jimenez was ordained a<br />

priest for the Diocese of Chalan Kanoa in 2003<br />

and appointed as its second bishop in 2016.<br />

ENRICHING DRIVEN MINDS<br />

over the course of the<br />

past 10 years, the Graduate<br />

School of Religion<br />

and Religious Education<br />

(GRE) has partnered<br />

with Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s Young<br />

Adult Leadership Initiative to<br />

reach master’s and doctoral candidates<br />

serving as leaders in hardto-reach<br />

Catholic communities.<br />

In Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s early<br />

days, it provided funds for priests<br />

to celebrate Mass from remote<br />

places, like the backs of rail and<br />

motor cars in isolated rural towns.<br />

Today, GRE helps Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

reach far-flung parishes<br />

through technology, said Patrick<br />

Holt, Ph.D., assistant dean at GRE.<br />

“These church leaders work in<br />

locations where they could not<br />

afford to leave their ministry to go<br />

and get the kind of schooling we<br />

offer,” said Holt. “Most of the ministry<br />

schools are in the Northeast,<br />

the Midwest or California, but the<br />

Catholic population is growing in<br />

the rural South and the borderlands<br />

of the Southwest.”<br />

As GRE has one of the most<br />

established online ministry programs<br />

in the country, they became<br />

a natural fit for the program’s mission,<br />

he said. The two-year program<br />

also hosts students in person<br />

at the Rose Hill campus twice for<br />

two weeks over the summer. Once<br />

there, they stay in campus housing,<br />

share meals, and bridge their<br />

online learning with real-world<br />

fellowship, he said.<br />

“It’s here that they get to meet<br />

our faculty and create community<br />

and learn together outside of the<br />

classroom,” he said. “They then<br />

take those connections back to the<br />

disparate places that they work.”<br />

Holt added the program has<br />

had great success, with many graduates<br />

going on to hold senior positions<br />

in dioceses and churches<br />

from as far away as the Asia Pacific<br />

region. Some also come to the<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> program having<br />

already achieved great success,<br />

such as Ryan Jimenez, bishop<br />

of the mission diocese of Chalan<br />

Kanoa in the U.S. Commonwealth<br />

of the Northern Mariana Islands.<br />

LEARNING FROM THE BRONX IN<br />

THE WESTERN PACIFIC<br />

Bishop Jimenez is a doctoral<br />

student who immigrated to the U.S.<br />

to teach religion to high school students<br />

after several years of teaching<br />

in remote areas of the Philippines.<br />

He said that youth ministry<br />

remains close to his heart.<br />

“Many of our youth are ‘nones’<br />

and it’s really important for me to<br />

meet them where they’re at and


22 INSPIRE<br />

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Before he discerned<br />

his vocation to the<br />

priesthood, Bishop<br />

Ryan Jimenez (far<br />

left) was a Catholic<br />

school teacher on the<br />

island of Rota<br />

in the Northern<br />

Mariana Islands.<br />

PHOTO COURTESY<br />

OF DIOCESE OF<br />

CHALAN KANOA<br />

“I think Fordham<br />

keeps my mind<br />

changing, growing.”<br />

BISHOP RYAN JIMENEZ<br />

think about where our young people<br />

are coming from,” Bishop<br />

Jimenez said in a phone interview.<br />

“Gone are the days of the strict<br />

reward-and-punishment model of<br />

religious education that says, ‘Do<br />

this; Do that.’”<br />

Bishop Jimenez said that GRE<br />

professors working with Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> have encouraged him to<br />

reflect and keep himself open to<br />

the realities his congregations face.<br />

He said that many in his mission<br />

are migrants to the U.S. who were<br />

born and bred as Catholics. But the<br />

unrooted circumstances of migration<br />

do not allow for regular access<br />

to the sacraments, forcing many to<br />

live outside of church doctrine.<br />

“Many feel they cannot receive<br />

the sacraments and so they feel<br />

unwelcome,” he said.<br />

He said that while much of the<br />

commonwealth is Catholic, not<br />

all worship or believe in the same<br />

manner. Part of the challenge is to<br />

connect with divergent constituencies.<br />

“For the community I’m in, one<br />

challenge is accepting and welcoming<br />

LGBTQ people,” he said.<br />

“How do we find the balance<br />

between accepting and non-judgment<br />

as Jesus would and address<br />

pastoral issues even as I’m bound<br />

to follow rules? I can’t change<br />

church structure.”<br />

Just shy of 50 years of age,<br />

Bishop Jimenez said that it has<br />

been 17 years since he was last in<br />

school. He said that he chose to<br />

go to Fordham to become a more<br />

effective leader.<br />

“You can’t give what you don’t<br />

have,” he said. “I need to update<br />

myself with recent studies and<br />

different approaches to the practice<br />

of service so that I can inspire<br />

others. I think Fordham keeps my<br />

mind changing, growing.”<br />

MEETING MEXICAN AMERICAN<br />

STUDENTS WHERE THEY ARE<br />

Edgar Guzmán became a master’s<br />

candidate in the summer of<br />

2019 thanks to the program. He is<br />

the campus ministry director at<br />

St. Paul Catholic Newman Center<br />

in Fresno, California. He’s the<br />

only youth minister in an office<br />

that serves four campuses. His thesis<br />

focuses on ministering to sec-<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

has proudly<br />

partnered with<br />

Fordham University<br />

to support theology<br />

degree scholarships<br />

for students from<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> dioceses<br />

for over 50 years.<br />

ond-generation Mexican Americans<br />

who have grown up in the<br />

U.S., but don’t necessarily feel as<br />

though they belong. Like Bishop<br />

Jimenez, Guzmán is trying to meet<br />

the student population he serves<br />

where they’re at.<br />

“The young people that I<br />

administer to are the sons and<br />

daughters of farmworkers,” said<br />

Guzmán. “I try my best to relate to<br />

them as a Mexican American and<br />

as someone kind of living in two<br />

worlds.”<br />

Guzmán cited a scene from the<br />

At age 33, Edgar<br />

Guzmán is the director<br />

of campus ministry<br />

at California State<br />

University, Fresno in<br />

the Diocese of Fresno.<br />

He is pursuing<br />

his master’s in theology<br />

at Fordham University<br />

with a scholarship<br />

from Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>.<br />

PHOTO EDGAR GUZMÁN<br />

movie “Selena,” where a Mexican<br />

American father complains to his<br />

son and daughter.<br />

“The father says, ‘We’re not<br />

Mexican enough for the Mexicans<br />

and we’re not American enough for<br />

the Americans.’ That is definitely<br />

true. That is definitely something<br />

we relate with,” said Guzmán.<br />

But Guzmán noted that being<br />

Mexican is far from being part of a<br />

monolithic identity. There’s a great<br />

difference between regions, as well<br />

as different perspectives on gender<br />

roles, sexual identity, class, and age.<br />

“I’m 33 years old and the majority<br />

of the students that I work with<br />

are about 10 years younger than<br />

me. So, there is definitely a generational<br />

gap,” he said. “I don’t have all<br />

the answers, but I have some suggestions<br />

and some insights that<br />

maybe they do not have right now.”<br />

EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE AND<br />

BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS<br />

Guzmán said that in addition to<br />

practical theology, GRE has given<br />

him a sounding board of peers.<br />

“Sometimes I feel very isolated<br />

and very alone just because there’s<br />

no other Newman Center [Catholic<br />

ministries at secular universities]<br />

in the Diocese of Fresno.<br />

We’re the only one and I’m the<br />

only campus minister that’s full<br />

time,” he said. “But with my classmates<br />

who work with other young<br />

adults or in campus ministry,<br />

I’ve definitely been able to peek<br />

behind the curtain, if you will, of<br />

other ministries and specifically<br />

on the East Coast. So that’s been<br />

very helpful.”<br />

He added that the program<br />

has given him the vocabulary<br />

to express himself and tools for<br />

insight. He also noted that some of<br />

the classes he’s taking were unexpected,<br />

like those on sociology<br />

and child behavior.<br />

“That threw me off at first,<br />

because I said, ‘What does this<br />

have to do with religious education?’<br />

When in reality, if I’m a<br />

minister, if I’m someone who’s<br />

going to be pastoring to young<br />

people, I have to learn how to walk<br />

with them, with all their baggage,<br />

which we all have,” he said. “So,<br />

the courses have taught me how to<br />

love in a more holistic way.”


24 INSPIRE<br />

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Sisters in the U.S.-Latin American Sisters Exchange Program join Father Jack Wall, president of Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>, during a gathering in Chicago<br />

to complete a course on restorative justice at Loyola University Chicago.<br />

SISTERS SEE US ALL AS EQUALS<br />

WORKING TO DEVELOP GOD-GIVEN POTENTIAL<br />

WITHIN EACH PERSON<br />

in the most forgotten corners<br />

of the United States, a dramatic<br />

transformation is taking<br />

place within the hearts<br />

and minds of thousands of<br />

people. That change is made<br />

possible by groups of Latin<br />

American Catholic sisters who<br />

have come to the United States at<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s invitation to<br />

go out to the margins of our society<br />

and serve the poor.<br />

In 2013 Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> partnered<br />

with the Conrad N. Hilton<br />

Foundation to develop the U.S.-<br />

Latin American Sisters Exchange<br />

Program. The five-year program<br />

provides an opportunity for Catholic<br />

sisters from religious congregations<br />

founded and based in Latin<br />

America to come to the United<br />

States to pursue a university<br />

degree and create new ministries<br />

in <strong>Extension</strong> dioceses among the<br />

poor, particularly Hispanic immigrants<br />

and their families. It involves<br />

sisters from 26 congregations and<br />

eight countries.<br />

The program has three main<br />

objectives. First, it offers higher<br />

education degrees to Latin American<br />

sisters serving in the U.S., who<br />

would otherwise have no such<br />

opportunities. Upon completion<br />

of the program, these sisters will<br />

be able to serve in leadership positions<br />

within their religious communities.<br />

Second, during the five-year<br />

The U.S.-Latin American Sisters Exchange Program includes offering higher education<br />

degrees through St. Mary’s University of Minnesota to Latin American sisters serving in the<br />

U.S. to develop their leadership and pastoral skills.<br />

period in which the sisters are<br />

in the U.S., the program helps<br />

establish new services and<br />

outreach to develop the human<br />

potential of tens of thousands of<br />

disadvantaged people. The sisters<br />

are mindful that their spiritual<br />

witness is a sign of hope. Their<br />

services are offered in dioceses<br />

supported by Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>,<br />

where, according to U.S. Census<br />

data, more than 80 percent of the<br />

most impoverished counties in the<br />

country exist.<br />

Finally, the program seeks to<br />

create a robust, collaborative and<br />

mutually supportive network of sisters<br />

from multiple congregations.<br />

A study by the GHR Foundation<br />

found that two out of three international<br />

sisters ministering in the<br />

United States expressed the need<br />

for mutual support and mentorship.<br />

The program addresses this<br />

need by providing the space and<br />

opportunity for the sisters to build<br />

lifelong relationships with each<br />

other. They share their journey as<br />

religious women together and collectively<br />

grow in knowledge and<br />

friendship. Their joy is so palpable<br />

and expressive that, when they<br />

convene to attend a class, retreat or<br />

training hosted by Catholic Exten-<br />

sion, they often pray, sing and even<br />

dance together. The sisters also<br />

meet on Zoom to connect, learn<br />

and share questions, ideas and suggestions.<br />

All of these formative<br />

experiences provide the basis for<br />

intercongregational collaborations<br />

after the program concludes.<br />

EDUCATIONAL AND<br />

MINISTERIAL ACHIEVEMENTS<br />

Now in its eighth year, the program<br />

has seen immense success.<br />

The first cohort of 36 sisters arrived<br />

in 2014 and departed in 2019. The<br />

sisters served 12 diverse communities<br />

across the country, stretching<br />

from Yakima, Washington, to Portland,<br />

Maine. They did not just serve<br />

people and abandon them. Rather,<br />

they developed lay leaders who<br />

could carry on the mission the sisters<br />

started after their departure.<br />

The sisters’ education greatly<br />

enhanced their pastoral and leadership<br />

skills. Eleven of the sisters<br />

in the first cohort earned master’s<br />

degrees in applied leadership from<br />

Boston College.<br />

Now back in their home countries,<br />

several of them have gone on<br />

to leadership roles, including one<br />

sister who was elected superior of<br />

her Mexico-based congregation<br />

and another who has become a<br />

formation leader of incoming novices<br />

of her community. All of the<br />

sisters continue to enjoy and grow<br />

from the friendships they developed<br />

among each other now three<br />

years after the program concluded.<br />

In late 2019 the second cohort<br />

of sisters began their journey<br />

thanks to new investment from the<br />

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and<br />

other partner donors and foundations.<br />

This second cohort includes<br />

44 sisters serving 14 dioceses in<br />

the U.S. All are currently pursuing<br />

either a bachelor’s degree in health<br />

care and human services management<br />

or a master’s degree in integrated<br />

studies with a concentration<br />

in human services and pastoral<br />

care. The sisters study together<br />

at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota,<br />

taking a combination of<br />

online courses and periodically<br />

convening for in-person classes.<br />

They are studying a variety of topics<br />

to improve their knowledge and<br />

skills in their ministries, including<br />

counseling, cultural competence<br />

for service providers, human services<br />

systems, community engagement<br />

partnerships and more.<br />

In addition to these studies,<br />

they have completed several specialized<br />

training programs, including<br />

a course on social and restorative<br />

justice offered through<br />

Loyola University Chicago. They<br />

also received trauma intervention<br />

training through Trauma Recovery<br />

Associates, an organization that<br />

equips community leaders who do<br />

not hold degrees in psychology to<br />

identify signs of trauma and offer<br />

healthy living skills.<br />

Meanwhile, all of them are in<br />

active ministry, meaning they


26 INSPIRE<br />

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can apply what they learn in the<br />

classroom to real situations they<br />

encounter in ministry, which relate<br />

to the spiritual, psychological and<br />

physical well-being of people.<br />

AN AMERICAN MISSION<br />

More than halfway through<br />

their 5-year program, four of<br />

the sisters in the current cohort<br />

recently met with Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> to share their perspective<br />

on their missionary vocations,<br />

the unique challenges they face<br />

in the communities they serve<br />

and their actions to empower the<br />

tens of thousands of people they<br />

encounter.<br />

Sister Deyanira González<br />

Alvarado, part of the Missionaries<br />

of Charity of Mary Immaculate,<br />

serves in the Diocese of Little<br />

Rock, Arkansas. Her friends have<br />

asked her why she has gone to the<br />

United States for mission work<br />

when it’s needed in her home<br />

country of Mexico.<br />

“Sometimes those of us from<br />

the outside believe everything in<br />

the United States is going well,”<br />

she said. “That people don’t need<br />

anything here and are well off<br />

spiritually, economically. We speak<br />

of poverty as this economic thing.<br />

On the contrary, when I arrived<br />

here, I noticed a spiritual poverty,<br />

a human poverty and a poverty as<br />

it pertains to relationships with<br />

God.”<br />

Sister Daysis Evangelista<br />

Uriarte Benavidez, a member of<br />

the Servant Sisters of the Divine<br />

Face, came to the Diocese of<br />

Kalamazoo, Michigan, from Nicaragua.<br />

She and her sisters work<br />

with Hispanic farmworkers who<br />

seasonally migrate to southwestern<br />

Michigan each year to harvest<br />

crops. Additionally, the sisters<br />

build bridges of unity at Holy<br />

Angels Catholic Church, where<br />

half the congregation is Hispanic<br />

and half is white. “Through recognizing<br />

the needs of the people, we<br />

can help create one community,”<br />

she said.<br />

Sister Zuly Cardenas Carreón,<br />

part of the Eucharistic Missionaries<br />

of the Infant Jesus of Our Lady<br />

of Fatima, came from Mexico and<br />

serves in California. In the Diocese<br />

of Sacramento, which covers<br />

much of rural northern California,<br />

several towns in Butte County<br />

were decimated by the 2018<br />

Camp Fire, the deadliest and most<br />

destructive wildfire in the state’s<br />

history. Years later, the survivors<br />

continue to struggle after losing<br />

their homes, possessions and,<br />

tragically for several families, their<br />

loved ones. Sister Zuly described<br />

why the presence of the sisters is<br />

needed in the area.<br />

“So often, the people feel<br />

From left, Sisters<br />

Paubla Jaritza<br />

García Rodríguez<br />

and Delia Aurora<br />

Ibarra Rodríguez<br />

promote hope<br />

and dignity<br />

among migrant<br />

farmworker families<br />

in the Diocese<br />

of Kalamazoo,<br />

Michigan.<br />

From left, Sisters<br />

Deyanira González<br />

Alvarado, Sandra<br />

Judith Estrada and<br />

María Minerva<br />

Morales Manuel,<br />

MCMI, serve a<br />

growing Hispanic<br />

community in the<br />

Diocese of Little<br />

Rock, Arkansas.<br />

Sister Daysis<br />

Evangelista Uriarte<br />

Benavidez, part of<br />

the Servant Sisters<br />

of the Divine Face<br />

from Nicaragua,<br />

leads a program for<br />

children in a migrant<br />

farmworker camp in<br />

southwest Michigan.<br />

alone,” she said. “For example, the<br />

people affected by the fires would<br />

say things like, ‘We get some basic<br />

help. People tell us to stop crying,<br />

to keep going. But it’s seeing you<br />

sisters, the spirituality that you<br />

impart on us—that’s what gives<br />

us hope to keep going. To be born<br />

again.’”<br />

Sister Gabriela Ramírez, a Guadalupan<br />

Missionary of the Holy<br />

Spirit, is originally from Mexico<br />

and has been serving in the<br />

United States for 27 years. She<br />

joined Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s U.S.-<br />

Latin American Sisters Exchange<br />

Program when it was expanded to<br />

include sisters already<br />

in the United States. She<br />

sought the opportunity<br />

to pursue her master’s<br />

degree along with the<br />

sisters who had recently<br />

arrived. Sister Gabriela<br />

currently works with<br />

Catholic Social Services<br />

in the Diocese of Birmingham,<br />

Alabama.<br />

Catholics in this region<br />

are a minority, around<br />

3 percent of the population.<br />

The immigrant<br />

Hispanic community,<br />

which is largely Catholic<br />

and speaks another<br />

language, still endures much discrimination.<br />

“The people don’t see them<br />

as children of God, that we are<br />

equal,” said Sister Gabriela. “It’s<br />

important for us to be that bridge,<br />

to make them visible and to promote<br />

their human dignity.”<br />

DEVELOPING HUMAN<br />

POTENTIAL<br />

The sisters work to develop the<br />

God-given potential within each<br />

person they encounter. By accompanying<br />

them in their struggles<br />

and providing tools and resources<br />

to improve their spiritual, psychological<br />

and physical health, they<br />

help these individuals—mothers,<br />

fathers, grandparents, children—<br />

understand their worth and the<br />

value they bring to their families<br />

and communities.<br />

A significant aspect of the ministry<br />

involves attending to the<br />

mental health struggles that have<br />

plagued so many immigrant people<br />

during the pandemic in communities<br />

where the sisters serve.<br />

The collective impact of their work<br />

is immense; the sisters have provided<br />

more than 34,000 “human<br />

development service” interactions,<br />

tracked through an app-based system<br />

developed by Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

in 2020.<br />

In rural Michigan, Sister Daysis<br />

and her sisters work to cultivate<br />

self-esteem among women and<br />

children. “There is a great need<br />

to orient them, counsel them, tell<br />

them their value and that we all<br />

have rights,” she said.<br />

The community was hit hard by<br />

COVID-19, and many families lost<br />

several loved ones—sometimes<br />

within the span of just a few days.<br />

The sisters started a program called<br />

“Accompaniment Through Grief”<br />

in which they go directly into people’s<br />

homes to talk through the<br />

grieving process and pray with<br />

those who continue to suffer from<br />

these great losses.<br />

One woman, a mother of two,<br />

lost her mother and sister. Her oldest<br />

son called the sisters one day,<br />

desperately asking them to help<br />

his mother who was unwell and


28 INSPIRE<br />

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depressed. The sisters arrived at<br />

the home and consoled her, being<br />

present with her when she had<br />

no one else to turn to. “We told<br />

her to have faith, that she was not<br />

alone,” said Sister Daysis. “That we<br />

are here, and we are her family—<br />

we are here to cry with you, suffer<br />

with you, laugh with you.”<br />

In Arkansas, the sisters focus<br />

on tending to troubled teens and<br />

youth in a large parish that has<br />

suffered from young people taking<br />

their own lives. They began a ministry<br />

called “Listen and Accompany”<br />

through which they reach<br />

out to struggling youth and families.<br />

“For them, just knowing that<br />

they have a safe haven for this, that<br />

they have us, is a gift from God,”<br />

said Sister Deyanira.<br />

One woman approached the<br />

sisters in a state of great distress,<br />

unable to even eat or sleep. After<br />

the sisters listened to and helped<br />

her, she gradually found happiness<br />

again. She married her partner,<br />

became active in the Church<br />

and now helps promote the ministry<br />

to help others. She told the<br />

sisters that they saved her life.<br />

Sister Deyanira described this<br />

aspect of their work as the essence<br />

of being a missionary. “It means<br />

being able to discover the presence<br />

of God wherever you are,”<br />

she said of her vocation. “To be the<br />

image of Jesus for others; for them<br />

to discover that you could be that<br />

for them, as you’re present with<br />

them in their pain. And for us as<br />

missionaries, it’s about discovering<br />

the image of Jesus in each and<br />

every one of them.”<br />

Sister Zuly and her two sisters<br />

in Butte County are helping the<br />

community recover from both the<br />

Sisters in the U.S.-<br />

Latin American<br />

Sisters Exchange<br />

Program lead a<br />

support group for<br />

women to help them<br />

overcome the trauma<br />

of the pandemic and<br />

wildfires that ravaged<br />

their community<br />

in the Diocese<br />

of Sacramento,<br />

California.<br />

pandemic and the 2018 wildfire.<br />

They work with the Promotores<br />

Program, coordinated by Northern<br />

Valley Catholic Social Services,<br />

which provides health education<br />

and connects those in need with<br />

social services in the county. Due<br />

to language and cultural barriers,<br />

many Hispanic people do not have<br />

access to or are unaware of the<br />

available resources.<br />

The sisters assist with food<br />

drives and help organize transportation<br />

to get people vaccinated. Far<br />

beyond these immediate needs,<br />

they uplift hundreds of individuals<br />

who continue to suffer from the<br />

trauma of the wildfire and pandemic.<br />

These services are transformative<br />

for women who have not felt<br />

allowed to grieve while they take<br />

care of their families. Sister Zuly<br />

described one woman who lost<br />

her husband and was only able to<br />

begin healing after spending time<br />

with the sisters.<br />

“They would tell us how they<br />

could never find relief, they could<br />

never cry, because they were the<br />

mothers, the wives, the nurturers—<br />

they had to sustain their families,”<br />

said Sister Zuly. “But today, they<br />

Sister Gabriela<br />

Ramírez, MGSpS, is<br />

pursuing a master’s<br />

degree to develop<br />

her pastoral skills<br />

through the U.S.-Latin<br />

American Sisters<br />

Exchange Program.<br />

She is a trusted and<br />

beloved presence<br />

among families<br />

in the Diocese<br />

of Birmingham,<br />

Alabama.<br />

lic Social Services, she gives these<br />

individuals the tools they need<br />

to improve their situations. This<br />

ranges from attending to immediate<br />

needs such as support for<br />

rent, clothing and food to offering<br />

classes to learn English, improve<br />

their Spanish literacy and obtain<br />

citizenship.<br />

Although her work focuses on<br />

the Hispanic community, Sister<br />

Gabriela emphasizes the universal<br />

mission of the Church. “We serve<br />

everybody. Catholics are for everybody,”<br />

she said. “To be a missionary<br />

is to love, to love everybody<br />

From left, Sisters Zuly Cardenas Carreón, Antonia Sánchez Núñez and Ana Luisa Vázquez<br />

López, MEJIF, came from Mexico to uplift marginalized communities in northern California.<br />

and to feel like home wherever we<br />

are, because we are there to serve.<br />

We have been sent by God and by<br />

our congregation to be the face of<br />

God for the people and to let them<br />

know that God loves them.”<br />

A MISSIONARY VOCATION<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> is honored<br />

to continue the U.S.-Latin American<br />

Sisters Exchange Program<br />

through our partnership with the<br />

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation and<br />

through the support of our donors<br />

and other partner foundations.<br />

Furthermore, we are grateful for<br />

the sisters’ outstanding work and<br />

growth.<br />

One hundred percent of the sisters<br />

in the first cohort reported<br />

the following: they felt the program<br />

had a positive impact on<br />

them personally and the communities<br />

they served; they would recommend<br />

the program to other sisters;<br />

they felt the training benefited<br />

them and their ministry and<br />

look at us as the ones who can<br />

sustain them.”<br />

For Sister Gabriela, her roles<br />

at Catholic Social Services in Birmingham<br />

as a spiritual leader<br />

and humanitarian worker blend<br />

together naturally. She lives out<br />

her vocation by providing for the<br />

needs of those who are at the<br />

heart and soul of the Church—the<br />

poor and vulnerable.<br />

She is a trusted, constant presence<br />

in the community, understanding<br />

the families and their<br />

needs through her involvement<br />

in the parishes. Through Cathothey<br />

felt the program helped them<br />

build relationships with other sisters<br />

and a strong community of<br />

Latina sisters.<br />

Wonderfully, the program will<br />

soon expand to include an additional<br />

70 Latina sisters from a variety<br />

of congregations and Latin<br />

American countries.<br />

All of the sisters who currently<br />

minister in or have completed the<br />

program have bravely embarked<br />

on a groundbreaking pursuit that<br />

aligns with their missionary vocations<br />

to uplift the most neglected<br />

and marginalized among us. Their<br />

work to develop human potential<br />

goes further than enriching<br />

the lives of thousands of Hispanic<br />

people in the poorest regions of<br />

the country. By building up faith<br />

within families and parishes, the<br />

sisters are also creating a foundation<br />

of positive community<br />

involvement that will extend to<br />

future generations.


30 INSPIRE<br />

Seminarian Profile<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 31<br />

Seminarian aspires<br />

to serve the poor<br />

Randy Tejada is 25<br />

years old, and his<br />

path to the seminary<br />

was an<br />

unlikely one. But<br />

the challenges<br />

he has faced in his life have only<br />

strengthened his resolve to serve<br />

the least of God’s people.<br />

Born in the Dominican Republic,<br />

Tejada has lived in Puerto Rico<br />

since the age of 7 and has become<br />

a U.S. citizen.<br />

He grew up in a poor neighborhood<br />

of Caguas, Puerto Rico, where<br />

he and his two younger brothers<br />

were raised by their single mother.<br />

Many of Tejada’s childhood friends<br />

and classmates fell into lives of<br />

drugs and street violence. Some of<br />

them even died.<br />

‘A priest<br />

without<br />

his people<br />

is not<br />

a priest’<br />

ate to enter the seminary for the<br />

Diocese of Caguas. What’s more,<br />

he had people depending on him<br />

financially with a promising career<br />

ahead of him.<br />

Over time, Tejada started warming<br />

up to the idea of pursuing the<br />

priesthood.<br />

When he entered the semi-<br />

ABOVE Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

supports Randy Tejada, a<br />

seminarian in the Diocese of<br />

Caguas, Puerto Rico.<br />

ABOVE LEFT Randy Tejada<br />

tours the poor neighborhood<br />

where he grew up with<br />

Father Jack Wall, president<br />

of Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>.<br />

LEFT Parishioners such as<br />

Beatriz (left) helped Randy<br />

Tejada realize his calling to<br />

the priesthood.<br />

Tejada steered clear of these<br />

dangers and remained close to the<br />

Church and his Catholic faith—<br />

which he attributes in large part to<br />

his maternal grandparents.<br />

His home parish, Our Lady of<br />

Perpetual Help, is a mission chapel<br />

located in a low-income neighborhood<br />

of Caguas. In spite of its poverty,<br />

Tejada has always understood<br />

that something very powerful happens<br />

in that humble chapel, which<br />

is why he became increasingly<br />

more involved in parish activities.<br />

While studying at the University<br />

of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, where<br />

he would eventually earn his bachelor’s<br />

and master’s degrees in<br />

social work, Tejada was first confronted<br />

with the question of what<br />

God was calling him to be. A visiting<br />

priest asked, “Have you ever<br />

asked what God wants for you?”<br />

Never in his wildest dreams<br />

did Tejada ever think that God’s<br />

plan might involve abandoning<br />

his dream of pursuing a doctornary<br />

almost two years ago with the<br />

blessing of his mother, two people<br />

confessed that they knew all along<br />

that this was where he was headed:<br />

his maternal grandparents.<br />

“My Christian formation came<br />

from my grandparents,” Tejada<br />

said. “They never doubted my<br />

vocation.”<br />

The people of Our Lady of Perpetual<br />

Help also offer ongoing support<br />

for Tejada’s vocation. They<br />

interpret his entrance into the<br />

seminary as an affirmation of the<br />

entire community.<br />

Giselle Sánchez Colón, who<br />

teaches confirmation classes,<br />

believes that Tejada is helping<br />

open up more young people’s eyes<br />

to the vocations to which God is<br />

calling them. She said, “Having a<br />

seminarian in my community is<br />

like having a little guidance from<br />

God in our path.”<br />

Likewise, Lynette Sánchez sees<br />

Tejada’s entrance into the seminary<br />

as a significant moment for<br />

their parish. “It’s a continuation of<br />

our history as a community. We<br />

are filled with pride. We are seeing<br />

our community get closer to God,”<br />

she said.<br />

Tejada does not let any of this<br />

go to his head. Instead, he remains<br />

grounded in where he comes from<br />

and the type of priest he aspires<br />

to be.<br />

He says that the spirituality of<br />

diocesan priesthood means that<br />

“a priest without his people is not<br />

a priest.” He believes that the role<br />

of a priest is “to accompany, not<br />

to direct, because the Holy Spirit<br />

is manifested in God’s people and<br />

speaks through them as well.”<br />

Tejada deeply admires many<br />

people in his home parish who<br />

helped give rise to his vocation.<br />

This includes people like Mrs. Cani,<br />

a pillar of the community, whom<br />

Tejada strives to emulate. She is, he<br />

said, “the person with the greatest<br />

piety and greatest love for bringing<br />

the Eucharist to the sick.”<br />

Tejada believes the poor, vulnerable<br />

and voiceless will be at<br />

the center of his priesthood. “The<br />

poor are not only Christ’s preferred<br />

ones but also the preferred of the<br />

Church, and I believe the Church<br />

must be present to their realities,”<br />

he said.<br />

He believes that a Catholic community<br />

grounded in the Eucharist<br />

can be an incredibly powerful force<br />

of good in our society today.<br />

“The Gospel,” Tejada said, “has<br />

to be incarnated.” That requires<br />

a church that is willing to get its<br />

hands dirty in the messiness of<br />

life, addressing violence in homes<br />

and on streets, embracing young<br />

people who have lost a sense of<br />

hope and supporting those who<br />

have lost their jobs.<br />

Tejada noted, “When I speak of<br />

these realities, I speak from the<br />

realities of the small faith community<br />

from which I come.” According<br />

to him, one of the great sins the<br />

Church can commit is to turn away<br />

from the realities of its people or to<br />

become just a “social club.”<br />

Tejada was clearly formed by the<br />

faith community from which he<br />

comes. He will be a great blessing<br />

to the people he is one day called<br />

to serve as a priest, God willing.<br />

Today, as he studies at Our Lady<br />

of Divine Providence Seminary in<br />

Ponce, Puerto Rico, he is thankful<br />

for the additional community of<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> donors that<br />

support his education.<br />

“Thank you for your generosity<br />

and goodness,” he said.<br />

He added, “Jesus fed 5,000 people<br />

with five loaves and two fishes.<br />

How many more can Jesus feed<br />

with just one vocation?”


THE GIFT<br />

THAT PAYS<br />

YOU BACK<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 33<br />

IGNITE Making a difference<br />

A LIFE-SAVING LEGACY 34 | PARISH PARTNERSHIPS 38 | DONOR PROFILE 40<br />

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charitable gift annuity<br />

offers you immediate<br />

financial benefits and will<br />

help communities that are<br />

poor in resources but rich<br />

in faith. Future generations<br />

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• Receive fixed, stable<br />

payments for life<br />

• Get immediate and future<br />

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For a personalized proposal,<br />

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or Bassell@catholicextension.org<br />

or visit catholicextension.org/annuities<br />

Please cut along<br />

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PHOTO RON WU<br />

Conchita Pozar<br />

(center, with<br />

her daughters)<br />

is a leader in<br />

the Purépecha<br />

indigenous faith<br />

community served<br />

by the late Father<br />

Valdovinos.<br />

The community<br />

dreams of having<br />

a Catholic church.<br />

See stories, pages<br />

34 and 38.


IGNITE<br />

34<br />

Feature Story<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 35<br />

PARISHIONERS GET<br />

VACCINATED IN<br />

HONOR OF THEIR<br />

PASTOR WHO DIED<br />

OF COVID-19<br />

S<br />

ince the very<br />

beginning of<br />

the Church,<br />

countless Catholic<br />

priests and<br />

sisters have<br />

sacrificed their<br />

lives in service<br />

to God and His<br />

people. From those who endured<br />

persecution for what<br />

they preached to the unknown<br />

numbers who succumbed to<br />

the harsh environments in<br />

their missionary work, these<br />

individuals put their love for<br />

their creator and communities<br />

before themselves.<br />

Father Francisco Valdovinos,<br />

a member of the Missionary<br />

Servants of the Most Holy<br />

Trinity, is among these heroic<br />

individuals. The beloved<br />

pastor served at the Sanctuary<br />

of Our Lady of Guadalupe<br />

in Mecca, California, in the Diocese<br />

of San Bernardino. The<br />

parish also contains various<br />

missions, including the North<br />

Shore community, an unincorporated<br />

Coachella Valley town<br />

whose story is detailed on page<br />

Father Francisco Valdovinos, S.T.,<br />

helped distribute 250,000 pounds of<br />

food to families in need during<br />

the pandemic.<br />

‘<br />

FATHER FRANCISCO VALDOVINOS<br />

HIS LEGACY<br />

IS NOW IN<br />

OUR HEARTS<br />

’<br />

38. When the COVID-19 pandemic<br />

began in 2020, Father<br />

Valdovinos was very active<br />

and tried to help his people,<br />

many of whom had lost their<br />

jobs and needed food and other<br />

basic aid. Before a vaccine<br />

was made available to him, he<br />

died from COVID-19 complications<br />

at the age of 58 in January<br />

2021.<br />

Although he fell victim to<br />

the virus, his legacy continues<br />

to save the lives of those he<br />

served. In memory of his devotion<br />

and sacrifice, his county<br />

has become among the<br />

most highly vaccinated in the<br />

country.<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> has been<br />

privileged to know Father Valdovinos.<br />

In late 2019 Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong>’s Mission Committee,<br />

an advisory committee of<br />

our Board of Governors, personally<br />

visited Father Valdovinos<br />

and his large parish, which<br />

serves thousands of people.<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> has worked<br />

in solidarity with faith communities<br />

in the Coachella Valley<br />

for many years and is helping<br />

establish a new Catholic<br />

church in the area—one that<br />

was born from Father Valdovinos’<br />

pastoral vision.<br />

Stepping up in times of<br />

trouble<br />

The pastor’s story drew national<br />

attention through a Los<br />

Angeles Times article written<br />

by Gustavo Arellano titled<br />

“This priest died of COVID-19.<br />

His congregants got vaccinated<br />

in his honor.”<br />

The following excerpts from<br />

the article showcase the tenacity<br />

and great love of Father<br />

Valdovinos.<br />

“The member of the Missionary<br />

Servants of the Most<br />

Holy Trinity arrived in 2018 to<br />

serve at the Sanctuary of Our<br />

Lady of Guadalupe and immediately<br />

endeared himself to locals.<br />

The balding, burly, mustachioed<br />

Mexican immigrant<br />

pressed politicians to bring<br />

better services for his working-class<br />

congregation, and<br />

brought in literacy and legal<br />

classes on his own. His homespun<br />

sermons packed the<br />

church every weekend, and<br />

the priest frequently visited<br />

the region’s agricultural fields<br />

with lunches for campesinos,<br />

many of whom hailed from his<br />

native Michoacán.<br />

“When the pandemic tore<br />

through the eastern Coachella<br />

Valley last year, Valdovinos<br />

transformed his picturesque<br />

parish into a food distribution<br />

center and testing site. He gave<br />

Father Mike Barth, S.T., left, leader of the Missionary<br />

Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, with the late Father<br />

Francisco Valdovinos, S.T., who devoted his life to<br />

serving communities in the Diocese of San Bernardino,<br />

California, before he died of COVID-19-related complications.<br />

Photo from 2019.<br />

out masks by the tens of thousands<br />

and offered socially distanced<br />

Mass, while appearing<br />

on Spanish-language radio to<br />

urge listeners to take the pandemic<br />

seriously and to get the<br />

vaccine once it was available.<br />

“When word emerged in<br />

December that COVID-19 had<br />

struck Valdovinos, parishioners<br />

held vigils outside the<br />

hospital where he was dying.<br />

More than a thousand people<br />

prayed during a Facebook Live<br />

session. A January caravan to<br />

honor his life snaked around<br />

Mecca, with cars and trucks<br />

bearing messages in Spanish<br />

such as ‘Thank You for Everything’<br />

and ‘We Miss You.’<br />

“‘The community cried<br />

when he died,’ said Conchita


36<br />

IGNITE<br />

Feature Story<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 37<br />

A family that is part of the communities<br />

inspired by the leadership of the late<br />

Father Francisco Valdovinos, S.T.<br />

Mecca, California, is home to many immigrant<br />

communities struggling to overcome poverty in the<br />

Diocese of San Bernardino, California. Father Francisco<br />

Valdovinos, S.T., was their champion.<br />

Pozar, 32, a leader in the<br />

Coachella Valley’s sizable<br />

Purépecha Indigenous community.<br />

‘He went above and<br />

beyond what most priests<br />

ever do. He could’ve just given<br />

Communion at Mass and<br />

that would’ve been fine. But<br />

he pushed everyone to do<br />

more. His legacy is now in our<br />

hearts.’”<br />

Giving life even after death<br />

The article goes on to describe<br />

how, though there are<br />

no public memorials in Mecca<br />

for Father Valdovinos,<br />

there is no need for any. Rather,<br />

the community’s gratitude<br />

for their departed pastor<br />

was evident wherever Arellano<br />

visited:<br />

“Hand sanitizers sat on a table<br />

in Our Lady of Guadalupe’s<br />

foyer, and near the sacristy.<br />

Red and blue stickers spaced<br />

six feet apart marked sidewalks<br />

and pews. Signs around<br />

the church campus in English<br />

and Spanish and affixed<br />

with a sticker of La Virgencita<br />

urged everyone to wear masks.<br />

In town, everyone seemed<br />

to be wearing them, whether<br />

women at an evening Zumba<br />

class in one of Mecca’s few<br />

strip malls, men hanging out<br />

in what passes for the town’s<br />

downtown, or kids playing<br />

baseball underneath the lights<br />

at the sports complex.<br />

“The most lasting tribute<br />

to Valdovinos wasn’t readily<br />

visible, though: Mecca’s<br />

COVID-19 vaccination rate.<br />

News accounts in the wake of<br />

his death quoted residents who<br />

vowed to roll up their sleeves<br />

in his honor. And they did.”<br />

According to the California<br />

Department of Public Health,<br />

data from the time of the article’s<br />

publication shows 93 percent<br />

of residents in the ZIP<br />

Code that encompasses Mecca<br />

and the smaller communities<br />

of North Shore and Desert<br />

Camp were fully vaccinated.<br />

This is a staggeringly high percentage<br />

compared to the surrounding<br />

region known as the<br />

Inland Empire, where only half<br />

of the population was fully<br />

vaccinated. Additionally, only<br />

4 percent of the entire state of<br />

California had achieved a 90<br />

percent full vaccination rate at<br />

that time.<br />

The article states:<br />

“‘When Father Valdovinos<br />

died, he awakened the consciousness<br />

of the people in<br />

our community to go out there<br />

and get the shot,’ said Assemblymember<br />

Eduardo García<br />

(D-Coachella), who represents<br />

the region and honored his<br />

sacrifice on the state Capitol<br />

floor shortly after his passing<br />

by adjourning a meeting in his<br />

name. ‘For their health, yes, but<br />

also out of respect for his life.’<br />

“‘He was just building<br />

momentum,’ said María<br />

Machuca, a former school<br />

trustee and longtime community<br />

organizer. ‘It’s just a big<br />

loss—we don’t know what he<br />

could’ve done. So we need to<br />

continue what he did.’”<br />

A priest for the poor<br />

Father Valdovinos grew up<br />

in Mexico and joined the Missionary<br />

Servants of the Most<br />

Holy Trinity, also known as<br />

Trinity Missions, a congregation<br />

devoted to poor and marginalized<br />

communities. (See<br />

page 16 to read how our donors<br />

continue to support the work<br />

of this congregation across the<br />

United States.)<br />

The article quotes Rev. Guy<br />

Wilson, S.T., pastor at Sacred<br />

Heart Church in Camden, Mississippi,<br />

a community supported<br />

by Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>. He<br />

formerly served in the Coachella<br />

Valley.<br />

“He saw the good that we<br />

did, and decided to join us,”<br />

said Rev. Wilson, who was also<br />

part of the delegation that inspired<br />

Father Valdovinos to<br />

discern his vocation and become<br />

a priest. “He was determined<br />

even then to help.”<br />

The article continues:<br />

“Valdovinos was ordained in<br />

1994, and ministered in Puerto<br />

Rico and Costa Rica before<br />

finding his social justice<br />

groove in Tallahassee, where<br />

he’d drive more than 300<br />

miles on weekends to visit labor<br />

camps and prisons across<br />

northern Florida. He moved on<br />

to Our Lady of Victory Church<br />

in Compton in 2007, where<br />

Valdovinos decided to combat<br />

violence in the city with adult<br />

education classes, health fairs<br />

and youth counseling.<br />

“‘How can you stop violence<br />

with no job, no education, no<br />

food, no housing, no transportation?’<br />

he told the L.A. Daily<br />

News in 2015. ‘This is a culture<br />

of violence, from generation<br />

to generation, in which they’re<br />

accustomed to live that way.’<br />

“Three years later, Trinity<br />

Missions asked Valdovinos to<br />

head Our Lady of Guadalupe<br />

in Mecca. Wilson was pastor of<br />

Our Lady of Soledad Church in<br />

Coachella at the time, and remembered<br />

the initial hesitation<br />

Valdovinos felt.<br />

“‘He never wanted to leave<br />

any mission he worked at,’<br />

Wilson said. ‘When Francisco<br />

saw something needed to be<br />

done, he put his energies to it,<br />

and you weren’t going to take<br />

him away from him. But in<br />

Mecca, Francisco really found<br />

his home.’<br />

“At his first Mass in the desert,<br />

more than 50 of his former<br />

Compton congregants showed<br />

up to bid him a final farewell.<br />

Machuca was in the audience<br />

that day.<br />

“‘That was an indicator of,<br />

“Oh yeah, he’s going to be good<br />

for us,”’ she said.<br />

“A few days later, Valdovinos<br />

showed up unannounced to<br />

her office. ‘He said, “We’ve got<br />

a lot of work to do together,”’<br />

Machuca said with a laugh.<br />

‘And we did it.’<br />

Preaching with action<br />

The article continues:<br />

“Valdovinos plugged his<br />

own social service networks<br />

to Mecca’s existing ones. Those<br />

connections were vital as the<br />

pandemic finally hit. Our Lady<br />

of Guadalupe distributed more<br />

than 250,000 pounds of food<br />

last year, and the sight of a<br />

masked Valdovinos handing<br />

out bags of groceries to families<br />

or pushing around a dolly<br />

stacked with sacks and boxes<br />

made him a regular on local<br />

English- and Spanish-language<br />

television broadcasts.<br />

“Wilson last saw Valdovinos<br />

in December [ 2020 ], just<br />

before his friend contracted<br />

COVID-19.<br />

“‘We talked about his plans<br />

and the needs in Mecca, and<br />

I told him, “Francisco, just be<br />

careful,”’ Wilson said. ‘“You’re<br />

with people all the time.” His<br />

death hit us hard, because he<br />

was so good at what he did.’<br />

“Two days after he died,<br />

Trinity Missions released a<br />

short video in his memory<br />

that’s as close to a personal<br />

manifesto as Valdovinos ever<br />

offered.<br />

“From inside Our Lady of<br />

Guadalupe, the priest declared:<br />

‘You can preach. But we need<br />

to show, with action.’”


38<br />

IGNITE<br />

Parish Partnerships<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 39<br />

‘It’s beautiful because they are<br />

living the mission with so little’<br />

How a Chicago parish<br />

supports the poorest<br />

Catholic parishes in<br />

the country<br />

The desert of southern<br />

California is<br />

home to the Coachella<br />

Valley, one of<br />

the most productive<br />

agricultural areas<br />

of the United States. The Diocese<br />

of San Bernardino serves this<br />

area and the people who dwell<br />

in it, including the thousands of<br />

farmworkers who cultivate and<br />

pick the local crops such as citrus<br />

fruits, dates and grapes. Many<br />

farmworkers in this area are indigenous<br />

Purépecha people. They<br />

come from Mexico and have their<br />

own language and customs. Sadly,<br />

they are often treated as outcasts<br />

because of their unique culture.<br />

Many families live in small trailer<br />

homes in the valley. Although they<br />

work hard, they often struggle to<br />

make ends meet.<br />

Sisters Aida Sansor and María<br />

Teresa Pacheco, members of the<br />

Missionary Guadalupanas of the<br />

Holy Spirit, were brought on by<br />

the diocese four years ago to reach<br />

the thousands of Purépecha living<br />

in the region. One of the poor<br />

villages in which the sisters serve<br />

is called North Shore. It sits on the<br />

edge of the Coachella Valley near<br />

the Salton Sea. Many community<br />

members, especially the women,<br />

Palm <strong>Spring</strong>s<br />

Coachella<br />

Valley<br />

Preserve<br />

Indio<br />

feel isolated by<br />

geography, language<br />

and discrimination,<br />

but their Catholic faith gives<br />

them strength to fight for a better<br />

life for themselves and their<br />

children. The sisters engage these<br />

faith-filled people by participating<br />

in their special feasts, devotions<br />

and community life. Simply put,<br />

the sisters seek to be in communion<br />

with the Purépecha people in<br />

both their joys and struggles.<br />

Together, the sisters and the<br />

Purépecha have advocated for improved<br />

infrastructure like streetlights<br />

and a new park for children.<br />

While these developments are appreciated,<br />

many people of North<br />

Shore believe that their community<br />

needs a church more than<br />

Coachella<br />

Mecca<br />

Joshua Tree<br />

Natl Park<br />

North<br />

Shore<br />

Salton Sea<br />

GOOGLE MAPS<br />

anything else.<br />

Many lack transportation to attend<br />

Mass at the nearest Catholic<br />

church in Mecca, California. Therefore,<br />

community members began<br />

gathering outdoors for prayer<br />

in a nearby grocery store parking<br />

lot, which can be problematic<br />

when temperatures reach up to 120<br />

degrees.<br />

Their dream of having a church<br />

grew stronger after the late Father<br />

Francisco Valdovinos, a religious<br />

priest of the Missionary Servants<br />

of the Most Holy Trinity and pastor<br />

in Mecca, started visiting their<br />

community and bringing them the<br />

Eucharist (see story on page 34 ).<br />

In 2019 the North Shore commu-<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s Parish Partnership program<br />

With a compelling list of urgent projects to support our Church, Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> has created a turnkey fundraising program that is easily<br />

adapted for any parish and provides materials and guidance. Please<br />

contact Natalie Donatello at ndonatello@catholicextension.org.<br />

Sisters María Teresa Pacheco and Felícitas<br />

Almanza, MGSpS, visit the the Purépecha<br />

people as they harvest limes in Coachella<br />

Valley in the Diocese of San Bernardino.<br />

nity and the Diocese of San Bernardino<br />

first shared with Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> their desire to have a<br />

church. They wanted somewhere<br />

their community could come together<br />

not only to worship but also<br />

to create an environment in which<br />

their children can grow in faith,<br />

values and Purépecha traditions.<br />

Mass-goers in North Shore, California, overflow their<br />

temporary worship space. They continue to work toward<br />

their dream of a permanent church.<br />

At that moment, Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s<br />

parish partner, St. Paul of<br />

the Cross Church in Park Ridge, Illinois,<br />

brought the North Shore<br />

community’s dream to parishioners,<br />

asking for support through a<br />

Lenten appeal.<br />

Thanks to the support of Adrienne<br />

Timm, director of social service<br />

ministry at the parish, and Dr.<br />

Erika Mickelburgh, principal of<br />

the parish’s school, St. Paul of the<br />

Cross Church has become an expert<br />

in turning dreams into reality.<br />

In prior years they collaborated<br />

with Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> to successfully<br />

help restore a 240-yearold<br />

church in Puerto Rico that took<br />

a direct hit from Hurricane Maria.<br />

And, the following year, St. Paul of<br />

the Cross helped build a new Catholic<br />

church in a “persistent poverty<br />

county”—a county that has<br />

had poverty rates of 20 percent or<br />

greater for at least 30 years—in<br />

central Arkansas.<br />

This past year, the newly assigned<br />

pastor of St. Paul of the<br />

Cross Church, Father James Wallace,<br />

saw firsthand the level of poverty<br />

that exists in <strong>Extension</strong>-supported<br />

communities, as well as<br />

the intensity of people’s faith<br />

amid their struggles. Father Wallace<br />

traveled with Catholic Exten-<br />

Father James Wallace is pastor of St. Paul<br />

of the Cross Church and School in Park<br />

Ridge, Illinois, which has partnered with<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> in helping poor faith<br />

communities across the country.<br />

sion to Puerto Rico in October<br />

2021 to learn about our<br />

hurricane and earthquake<br />

recovery efforts among<br />

1,000 damaged parishes<br />

on the island. “Meeting<br />

with the local priests and community<br />

leaders was very inspiring because<br />

of their sense of mission,”<br />

Father Wallace said. “They are<br />

willing to go out to their flock. It’s<br />

beautiful because they are living<br />

the mission with so little.”<br />

Financial help from parishes like<br />

St. Paul of the Cross can go a long<br />

way in these poor communities<br />

that have so few financial resources<br />

but incredible determination.<br />

Determination has been the<br />

theme of the story in the North<br />

Shore community as well. They<br />

tragically lost their pastor, Father<br />

Valdovinos, to COVID-19 in 2021.<br />

Father Valdovinos named the new<br />

church San Juan Diego Mission<br />

before his passing but never saw it<br />

built.<br />

Thanks to the efforts of the Diocese<br />

of San Bernardino, Sisters<br />

Aida and María Teresa, the late Father<br />

Valdovinos and St. Paul of the<br />

Cross, the North Shore community<br />

acquired an empty storefront<br />

this past year as a temporary gathering<br />

space, which they now fill to<br />

capacity. This is one step closer to<br />

their ultimate dream of having a<br />

church of their own—a dream that<br />

all parties involved continue to<br />

pursue.<br />

The North Shore community<br />

is grateful to Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>’s<br />

parish partner, St. Paul of the Cross<br />

Church, for supporting their dream<br />

to build a proper place to celebrate<br />

Mass and to live the mission of the<br />

Church to the fullest.


40<br />

IGNITE<br />

Donor Profile<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 41<br />

Trailblazing<br />

Chicago principal,<br />

Marguerite McMahon,<br />

leaves gift to educate<br />

future priests<br />

In 2020 a prominent Chicago<br />

educator and woman<br />

devoted to her family was<br />

welcomed into eternal life.<br />

However, her life’s mission<br />

has not ended. Although<br />

she has passed on, her legacy of<br />

helping the Church and sharing<br />

the gift of education with others<br />

will continue.<br />

Marguerite McMahon left a<br />

generous planned gift to Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> that will support the<br />

education of seminarians in perpetuity.<br />

These future priests come<br />

from and are preparing to serve<br />

the poorest regions of the country.<br />

(See the story about one of these<br />

seminarians on page 30.) Her final<br />

gift reflects the vocation she followed<br />

in her own life: to develop<br />

the next generation through quality<br />

education.<br />

McMahon was born in Chicago<br />

in 1924 to Irish immigrant parents.<br />

She grew up on the South<br />

Side on Princeton Avenue and was<br />

the youngest of three children. A<br />

Chicagoan all of her life, she was<br />

devoted to the city and her favorite<br />

teams: the White Sox and the<br />

formerly Chicago-based Cardinals<br />

football team. After completing<br />

high school, she pursued<br />

a career in education—one of the<br />

few professions open to women<br />

at the time. She graduated from<br />

Chicago Teacher’s College in 1946<br />

and began teaching third grade. In<br />

A legacy that carries on<br />

the work of the Church<br />

Marguerite McMahon speaks at an education seminar at DePaul University in 1980.<br />

1956 she earned a master’s degree<br />

in education at DePaul University<br />

and became assistant principal at<br />

James Shields Elementary School.<br />

Four years later, she embarked<br />

on a new, daunting challenge:<br />

principal of Davis Elementary<br />

School. The school was located in<br />

a lower-income, high-crime neighborhood.<br />

She often told the story<br />

about how, when she first got the<br />

job, she brought her parents to see<br />

her new workplace. It was covered<br />

in graffiti. For McMahon, the state<br />

of the school was unacceptable.<br />

Five years later, she was excited to<br />

bring back her parents. The building<br />

was completely cleaned up.<br />

“She took a lot of pride in making<br />

sure things were nice,” said Ann<br />

Eiden, her niece.<br />

McMahon’s transformation of<br />

Catholic<br />

<strong>Extension</strong><br />

Legacy<br />

Club<br />

Join the Legacy Club<br />

Marguerite<br />

McMahon<br />

poses with<br />

her siblings in<br />

Chicago in 1934.<br />

Davis Elementary went far beyond<br />

physical appearance. She developed<br />

a system that allowed the<br />

children to advance in their education<br />

at their own pace.<br />

“It was always really important<br />

to her that each child do as well<br />

as they could at whatever level<br />

that might be. She wanted everybody<br />

to have the best chances in<br />

life that they possibly could,” said<br />

Eiden.<br />

Through her relationship-building<br />

and leadership, she helped<br />

the school establish a stable and<br />

healthy presence in the community.<br />

She knew all of the families<br />

and police officers.<br />

“The kids loved her. The parents<br />

loved her. There was a lot of<br />

mutual respect,” said Eiden.<br />

An undying commitment to<br />

the Church<br />

During this time she was also<br />

heavily involved in her parish, St.<br />

Give a gift that will last longer than any lifetime. Join our<br />

Legacy Club by including a bequest to Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

in your will or trust. Visit legacy.catholicextension.org or<br />

contact the Planned Giving Team at 1-800-842-7804 or<br />

plannedgiving@catholicextension.org.<br />

Thomas More. For several years<br />

she also served as president of<br />

the Aquin Guild, an association<br />

of Catholics teaching in public<br />

schools in the Archdiocese of<br />

Chicago.<br />

She volunteered at all of the<br />

parish’s celebrations and events.<br />

She maintained strong friendships<br />

with priests, even after they<br />

moved on to new assignments.<br />

“She saw a priest as the mainstay<br />

of the Church,” said Paul Joyce,<br />

her nephew.<br />

After more than three decades<br />

in education, McMahon retired<br />

as principal of Davis Elementary<br />

School in 1982. However, she did<br />

not slow down. She took up work<br />

as a paralegal, traveled the world,<br />

and enjoyed her favorite hobbies:<br />

bowling and golfing. As always,<br />

she contributed her time and generosity<br />

to her family, her parish<br />

and many Catholic organizations,<br />

including Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>.<br />

McMahon is remembered by<br />

her family as a woman of great<br />

intelligence, integrity, loyalty and<br />

faith. In following her own calling,<br />

she shaped a generation of<br />

students on the South Side. Similarly,<br />

she understood the value<br />

of a quality education for men on<br />

the path to priesthood. Her many<br />

years of support to Catholic <strong>Extension</strong><br />

contributed to the education<br />

of thousands of priests serving<br />

in faith communities today.<br />

Through her parting gift, countless<br />

more seminarians will develop the<br />

extensive knowledge and skills<br />

necessary to carry on the work of<br />

the Church—now and far into the<br />

future.


42<br />

IGNITE<br />

Connect<br />

<strong>Extension</strong> | <strong>Spring</strong> <strong>2022</strong> 43<br />

From the mail<br />

From an under-resourced<br />

high school to the Ivy<br />

League<br />

Elizabeth Esteban made national<br />

news when she was accepted to<br />

Harvard College with a full-ride<br />

scholarship. She is the daughter<br />

of immigrant farmworkers and<br />

part of the indigenous Purépecha<br />

community served by the<br />

Guadalupana missionary sisters<br />

(see page 38) in the Coachella<br />

Valley in the Diocese of San<br />

Bernardino, California.<br />

After the headlines and<br />

excitement faded, Esteban found<br />

herself struggling in her new, vastly<br />

unfamiliar environment. But one<br />

thing kept her grounded and secure<br />

in her worth: her faith. She sent the<br />

following letter to the sisters from<br />

the halls of Harvard, explaining how<br />

her relationship with God has been<br />

her source of power and motivation<br />

to carry forward.<br />

Elizabeth Esteban and Sister María Teresa Pacheco, MGSpS, in the Diocese of San<br />

Bernardino, California.<br />

Letter:<br />

Transitioning from an under-resourced<br />

high school to an Ivy League school<br />

was extremely challenging. I wasn’t<br />

as prepared as my peers, and I didn’t<br />

know what to expect; however, I went<br />

there with my head up high and ready<br />

to learn. I do have to admit I stumbled<br />

many times, and many times I felt<br />

inferior and vulnerable. I mean, coming<br />

from an underserved community that<br />

predominantly consists of Hispanics, all<br />

of whom share the same background<br />

… it is unimaginable to see yourself in<br />

an environment totally contradictory<br />

to the place you were raised. Yet, every<br />

day I still woke up, and I tried to “survive”<br />

every day. I started looking forward to<br />

the weekends instead of enjoying each<br />

day. There was a point where I began to<br />

question why I was here and why I had<br />

left my parents … what was the reason<br />

why I was here at Harvard while my<br />

parents were still working in the fields<br />

every day.<br />

But then I found a place where I felt<br />

that I had a purpose and was capable of<br />

pushing myself through this challenging<br />

time, and that was Harvard’s Catholic<br />

Church: St. Paul Parish. One positive<br />

thing that happened during my first<br />

semester at Harvard is that I grew<br />

spiritually, and I formed a closer<br />

relationship with God. I went to church<br />

two to three times a week with my<br />

roommate Azul, and most of the time,<br />

I spent it at the Catholic Center, where<br />

I spent most of my time doing my<br />

homework. If I couldn’t go to church, I<br />

made sure I prayed back in my dorm.<br />

Praying gave me peace and motivation<br />

to keep going and pursue my goals.<br />

When I found myself crying in the night<br />

due to stress, I prayed and trusted God.<br />

For the upcoming semesters, I will<br />

continue to do the same, and I hope to<br />

strengthen my relationship with God<br />

and find a community with people<br />

seeking to do the same thing.<br />

› Elizabeth Esteban |<br />

Harvard College<br />

Parishioner, Our Lady of<br />

Guadalupe Parish<br />

Diocese of San Bernardino, CA<br />

Dear Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> donors,<br />

I AM SINCERELY HONORED to have<br />

been selected as the recipient of the<br />

Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> Young Adult Leadership<br />

Initiative scholarship. Thank you for<br />

your generosity, which has allowed me<br />

to study at Boston College. Because of<br />

your scholarship I can graduate with a<br />

master’s degree in <strong>2022</strong>. Upon my graduation<br />

from Boston College, I am hoping<br />

to continue working at the Archdiocese<br />

of Mobile with our Hispanic youth<br />

and young adults.<br />

› Sonya García-Vázquez | Lay<br />

leader and Young Adult Leadership<br />

Initiative scholarship recipient<br />

Archdiocese of Mobile, AL<br />

Dear Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> donors,<br />

THIS YEAR the Missionary Servants<br />

celebrate its Centennial as a religious<br />

congregation. This is the 77th year serving<br />

in Central Mississippi. Sacred Heart<br />

Mission is the mother mission of all our<br />

commitments here. We were able to<br />

complete all the repairs and painting to<br />

the exterior of the buildings to celebrate<br />

the Centennial on November 13, 2021.<br />

We were joined by our five Churches in<br />

Dear Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> donors,<br />

IT WAS GREAT to have the support<br />

from Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> as a seminarian,<br />

and we continue to have the support<br />

to the vocation of the seminarians<br />

in our diocese. It is definitely a blessing<br />

to be a part of this mission. I am very<br />

humbled and very honored to be able to<br />

receive this education from the Diocese<br />

of Yakima through Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>. It<br />

would not be possible without your help<br />

because we are a missionary diocese.<br />

And I know Bishop Tyson makes a joke<br />

about very expensive priests. Without<br />

your support, my education would not<br />

have been possible. I am here because<br />

of you and your support, and of course<br />

the region for a day of thanksgiving with<br />

Bishop Joseph Kopacz and Father Mike<br />

Barth, S.T. Three hundred fifty people<br />

assembled to celebrate the event. With<br />

God’s blessing and help from benefactors<br />

we hope to continue using our facilities<br />

for the evangelization in this part of<br />

the Lord’s vineyard.<br />

› Father Guy Wilson, S.T. | Pastor,<br />

Sacred Heart Church<br />

Diocese of Jackson, MS<br />

your prayers. But as you know, the financial<br />

support is necessary for our location.<br />

How do I feel? I feel blessed by<br />

God through Catholic <strong>Extension</strong>. Thank<br />

you so much.<br />

› Father César Izquierdo |<br />

Parochial Vicar, St. Joseph Parish<br />

Diocese of Yakima, WA<br />

WHAT WE ARE HEARING<br />

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150 South Wacker Drive, Suite 2000<br />

Chicago, IL 60606<br />

Sisters in our U.S.-Latin American Sisters Exchange Program visit the Grand Canyon<br />

How will you be remembered?<br />

Do you want to support Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> in a meaningful way?<br />

Learn how you can build a legacy of faith, hope and change in the lives of<br />

Catholics in America for generations to come.<br />

Contact the Planned Giving team at 1-800-842-7804<br />

or plannedgiving@catholicextension.org


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Chicago, IL 60606<br />

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CATHOLIC CHURCH<br />

EXTENSION SOCIETY<br />

Sisters in our U.S.-Latin American Sisters Exchange Program visit the Grand Canyon<br />

How will you be remembered?<br />

Do you want to support Catholic <strong>Extension</strong> in a meaningful way?<br />

Learn how you can build a legacy of faith, hope and change in the lives of<br />

Catholics in America for generations to come.<br />

Contact the Planned Giving team at 1-800-842-7804<br />

or plannedgiving@catholicextension.org

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