How do we authentically care for one another?

Recent Masters of Arts in Ministry graduate Cindy Gonzalez is empowering communities to lift one another up.

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March 13, 2020

     Recent Master of Arts in Ministry graduate Cindy Gonzalez is empowering communities to embrace their Latinx culture to authentically care for one another. A self-identifying Spanish speaking Chicana; a bi-lingual woman of color, Gonzalez is teaching students how to lift each other up through faith.

       At the 2019 Dallas Ministry Conference Cindy Gonzalez led five Visio Divino sessions in Spanish. It was in the middle of her presentation that Gonzalez realized she needed to adapt her presentation to the demands of the audience-  the presentation guide she was using wasn’t working. The session needed to apply directly to the attendees’ collective experiences. Following her instinct, the session evolved into creating holy ground for others to share their real and raw stories rather than following the outline that defined a clear beginning, middle, and ending for the session. As participants looked at the images from the Saint John’s Bible, they connected it to their experiences with racism, trauma, and oppression. This experience showed Gonzalez that taking time to slow down and care for one another is more important now than ever.

       Teaching wasn’t in her initial plans after graduating, but upon discovering community members asking for a place to voice their shared experiences and personal stories, Gonzalez was moved. Following this call to ministry, Gonzalez accepted the invitation to teach a Spanish course, Ministry to and with Families, at the Emmaus Institute, a four-year ministerial formation program offering courses in both English and Spanish for lay ministry and Latino diaconal candidates. After accepting the offer, Gonzalez started diligently learning theological words in her native laguage, Spanish, in order to use the colloquial language of her students to speak directly to their experiences in Rural Minnesota. In her course, Gonzalez challenged her students to talk with their family about what it means to be a first-generation immigrant and share their stories of hardship and triumph. She built scenario-based activities and lessons that addressed parent-child interactions across the lifespan, cycles of addiction, poverty and violence, and the collective trauma experienced by the community.

Cindy Gonzalez holding Saint John's Bible        A former graduate student of Saint John’s, Gonzalez encountered powerful moments of inclusive learning when professors introduced theologians and authors who spoke to her as a woman of color and looked at ministry across the lifecycle. Gonzalez’s passion is creating a ministry that weaves together multi-cultural theology with parent and family education to empower those who are made to feel less than human. Gonzalez hopes her ministry will cultivate a sense of belonging within the oppressed to restore communal accompaniment by creating holy ground through listening to one another, lifting each other up, and utilizing faith to fight for recognition as valued members of the church.