U.S. Catholic Mission Association Elected Its First Ever Hispanic Laywoman as President of the Board
On March 7, 2009, the USCMA Board members gathered for their spring meeting in Washington, DC. On top of their agenda is the election of its new set of Executive Committee members. After some serious thought and deliberation, the Board overwhelmingly elected Mrs. Teresita Gonzalez de la Maza as its new Board President. She is the first married laywoman and Hispanic to be elected Board President since the founding of USCMA. The USCMA past Presidents include the Most Rev. William G. Connare, Most Rev. Glennon Flavin, His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Manning, Sr. Mary Ann Dillon, RSM, Sr. Mary Louise Lynch, MMS, Rev. John Fischer. Mr. Donald Mueller, Rev. William Morton, SSC, Sr. Christine Beckett, SCN, Rev. Joseph Nangle, OFM, and Sr. Mary McGlone CSJ.
I am incredibly humbled by the opportunity to serve as Board President, says Mrs. Gonzalez de la Maza. It is a tremendous honor and a blessed challenge. USCMA siempre ha sido para mi una experiencia de la acogida de una familia que va nutriendo una espiritualidad misionera en su miembresia de una manera personal y profunda. (USCMA is an experience of welcoming and belonging to a family that nurtures a missionary spirituality in its members in a personal and profound way.), she said.
This is a historic moment and one that is timely, said Fr. Michael Montoya, MJ, USCMA Executive Director. All studies about the religioscape of the United States point to the growing number of the Hispanic population and the growing participation of the laity in the life and mission of the Church. In the recent survey of all US Catholic missioners serving all over the world, a survey conducted by USCMA every two years, it indicates that there is an increasing number of laity that has dedicated their lives to the work of mission. The election of Teresita Gonzalez de la Maza points to this changing reality of the face of US Catholics in mission, Fr. Montoya added.
“That’s great!”says Rev. Allan Figueroa Deck, SJ, Director of the USCCB Cultural Diversity in the Church, as he hears the news for the first time. The Hispanic communities have an important role to play in carrying out the Church’s mission. It is wonderful to see new Hispanic leadership serving in such a key area of concern, he added.
Teresita Gonzalez de la Maza is the Executive Director of Amor en Accion, a missionary community of the Archdiocese of Miami. Tery, as she is fondly called, has been a member of the USCMA Board for 4 years and has enriched USCMA with her creative thinking and expertise in mission.
Together with her on the Executive Committee are: Sr. Judy Gomila, MSC, Vice President, Rachel Tomas Morgan (Asian American) as Secretary Treasurer, Rev. Arturo Aguilar, SSC (also Hispanic) as Executive Member at Large, and Dr. Andy Thompson as Executive Member at Large.
The face of the new leadership at USCMA is an invitation to see mission with new eyes, says Fr. Montoya alluding to the theme of this year’s Mission Conference, Behold I Create a New Heaven and a New Earth: Seeing Mission with New Eyes, which will be held in New Orleans on October 23-25, 2009. Information about this timely Mission Conference can be accessed through www.uscatholicmission.org or by calling 202-832-3112.
USCMA was approved in its present mode at the Annual Assembly of the Board of Directors in September 1981. USCMA is linked historically both to the Mission Secretariat (1949), which served the mission-sending organizations for over twenty years, as well as to the U.S. Catholic Mission Council (1967-1981). Since then, USCMA remains the only network of all U.S. Catholic missioners serving here and abroad. Its mandate is to promote mission and global solidarity. It unites and supports all Catholic missioners in their work to build a transformative global community.