Please share a little about yourself – feel free to include a fun fact!
I was born & raised in Valencia, Venezuela and moved to the states in 2000. I have been here ever since then despite the original plan of living here for two years through my dad’s job. Fun fact: I am NAUI certified for advanced open water scuba diving.
Describe your professional work/ministry/family life. How were you led to this? What are you passionate about?
Part as to why I loved GIVEN so much is because it encouraged me to learn more about my gift and to find careers that use these gifts. I cannot say I have enjoyed where I am at professionally since I graduated 10 years ago, so I have learned how to sanctify my career while I wait for my miracle. Ministry, on the other hand, was that volunteering opportunity that gives me purpose. I am an active leader in my parish and am currently facilitating the Women’s Ministry alongside our Evangelical Director. I never thought I would enjoy ministry as much, much less feel so joyful. Three years in, I feel God is using my discontent in my professional life to push me to dedicate more time to ministry. My passions involve leading women groups and talks, and use my photography & design skills to make courses, social media promotions, and photoshoots to further promote Catholic well-being to women. I am a certified Toastmaster, so anything that requires presenting, I love. Who knows, maybe one day God will make me a career of this, but in the meantime, I work with what I got.
What are the personal strengths that you’ve been given and how do you utilize them?
God gave me a few gifts I uncovered, or rather accepted, at the GIVEN Forum. I feel he gave me an artistic spirit, with a passion for supporting women. I find it funny that for the longest time I wanted other gifts that involved math or science, but the more I fought that, the less excited I felt for life. I come from a long line of musicians and painters, some of which made it very big and published music education books or were music directors at the New York Symphony. God has been very patient in helping me understand that it is OK to be an artist; that in fact, He is wanting for me to thrive as an artist, not shy away from it. This is how I “fell” into ministry and am now photographing maternity shoots or weddings on the side. Being in the first steps of living in my gifts, I am learning how to be more open to where God wants me to use the gifts he gave me.
What women inspire you, and why? (living or deceased, Catholic or non-Catholic, canonized or not)
There are two women that come to mind. One of them is Jenna Kutcher, a marketing and business mogul that has taken charge of her life by using the gifts God gave her. Though not Catholic, she practices kindness, dedication, love, and consistency in her work (or how St. Josemaria likes to call it, sanctifying her work). She has a gift of encouraging other women to make their desires come to life in ways that we never thought possible. She has been able to support her family as well in profound ways thanks to her career – a personal goal of mine.The second woman that comes to mind is my other patron saint (St. Josemaria being one of them), St. Therese of Lisieux. I have been praying with her ever since I got to know her story. Of the many things she did, she learned how to love her journey and others, no matter how difficult it got. She remained steadfast in her vocation even though she encountered people who she didn’t get along with, or did duties she would rather not do. Both of these women remind me that God gave you something wonderful to offer to others, and He will give you the tools to do it as long as you remain open to Him.
Are there friends and mentors that you depend upon? How do they support you?
My husband and friends encourage me to battle negative thoughts; my biggest challenge to date. As I mentioned before, my biggest frustration has been my career journey, and my friends have been a huge support as I learn to live in joy in the valley of waiting and figuring things out. Both my husband and friends encourage me, without knowing, by the love they give me every day.
Prayer is essential for everyone, but especially for women who are active in the life and mission of the Church. Do you have any favorite devotions or prayers?
I absolutely do! It’s the Metanoia Catholic daily journal. It helps me see the good in my life and trains my mind to seek the good versus see the bad the goes on. I do it daily for about 20 minutes and it always leaves me feeling hopeful. This is power in how we fixate our mind to be more in tune with Jesus.
Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?
Joshua 1:9 – Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.
What were your key takeaways from the GIVEN Forum?
Biggest takeaway was that God made you unique and exactly as you are; He makes no mistakes and it’s really me who puts the biggest roadblock towards finding purpose.
What was your GIVEN action plan? Describe its vision, mission, and audience.
My plan was to photograph churches that were going to be closed due to lack of parishioners/financial support. My vision was to create an art exhibit at my church to help our parishioners know the impact they have on our own church and why any support (whether financial or of time) helps.
Could you tell us a bit about what motivated or led you to develop this action plan? Was this something that you had on your heart prior to this past year or was it something you developed through the GIVEN program?
This was a plan that came to mind after a meeting I had with a mentor at GIVEN. She encouraged me to find ways to incorporate my gifts more, not try to use gifts that I really do not have. During the week I was there, she helped me develop an action plan and next steps towards making this happen.
How did you grow throughout this year as you worked with a mentor on your action plan? Were there any moments where you had doubts or felt like you had taken on too much of a challenge? If so, how did you overcome them?
My action plan was not able to be completed. It was heartbreaking to see it all fall apart as I tried to have churches be more open about their closing. Understandably so, many archdiocese did not feel comfortable sharing information with me around parishes closing. I still felt I needed to push myself to photograph more and foster a place where I can create, and so I did. I have my own blog and webpage where I am showcasing my work and are getting more comfortable with putting my work out there for others to see.
What were some of the fruits you saw from your action plan? What did you find most fulfilling in this process?
learned the art of letting go and letting God do his thing. I do not think I would have started my own side photography business without GIVEN. I went there completely open to what the Lord wants, and looking back, I feel I am in a much better place and love my artistic gifts.