Up Front and Personal

Called to Serve by Helping to Plan

by Monica Alvarez

I was born in Quito, Ecuador, and raised in New York City. I attended a local Catholic elementary schools in Queens, and Holy Cross Academy, Manhattan, for high school. I later graduated from the College of Mt. St. Vincent-on-Hudson in the Bronx.

I was at Mt. St. Vincent during the years the Second Vatican Council was in session. I was able to read and meditate on the documents that came from the Council. My role in the Church began to crystallize. I realized I was the Church because of my baptismal vows. This realization hopefully informs my actions within the Church and my participation in the current reconfiguration work of the diocese. I believe that the work of the Church is mine because of the gifts I have received from the Holy Spirit made visible through the incredible service and dedication of the many persons who have helped form who I am.

Professionally, I hold a senior position with a not-for-profit international organization of over 20,000 chief executive officers, whose mission is to build better leaders through education and idea exchange.

Why do I sit on the Pastoral Planning Commission for the diocese? Because for me, this is an important position of stewardship and service: a way to give back to a community that has given me so much, and it is a way for me to translate my professional skills to the service of the Church.

What does Christ Jesus, Our Hope mean to me?

I see it as our process. We address and consider the “brick-and-mortar” issues (finances, state of church buildings, etc.) facing parishes so that all these resources can be used to support the pastoral mission of the Church in Brooklyn and Queens.

My role is three-fold: to participate prayerfully in discussions, studying documents presented by each of the parishes; to actively listen and learn about the challenges and successes of these parishes; to facilitate discussions and collaboration with pastors, parish administrators and parish leaders to arrive at action plans that will address financial resources necessary to meet their pastoral needs. This dialogue of pastoral mission and financial resources is important because one cannot happen without the other.

In my work for the diocese, I have come to know of the selfless work of the many “people in the pews.” Just regular folks – many who work full-time jobs and spend countless hours in ministry on evenings and weekends – all for the sake of bringing the Word and work of God to all – children, teens, elderly and everyone in between.

I have also witnessed how many have struggled to understand and prayerfully accept that while one parish may close, together with neighboring parishes the work will continue with more focused resources because we are part of a larger Church.

Monica Alvarez is a member of the Oratory Church of St. Boniface, Downtown Brooklyn, where she attends with her husband and two children.