Location: Houston, TX

Job Title: Director of Worship

Education: Catholic Theological Union

Degree: Doctor of Ministry in Liturgical Studies

Erika Gonzalez, GIVEN ’22

Please share a little about yourself – feel free to include a fun fact!

I LOVE iced coffee, going for a run, and reading. My favorite book series is the Living Water series by Stephanie Landsem. Highly recommend!

Describe your professional work. How were you led to this? What are you passionate about?

For years, I thought I would work as a pianist for the rest of my life and performing for a living. However, I felt like there was something missing. Something that working in ministry was able to provide me with. Peace.

What are the personal strengths that you’ve been given and how do you utilize them?

One of my strengths is finding a place for everyone, and encouraging them to reach their fullest potential. Aside from parish work, I teach private music lessons. There are many times when students become frustrated with their assignments or pieces, and simply want to throw in the towel. We work together to figure out what is causing the issue, then work past it in order for the students to reach their goals. Very rarely does this include finding another instrument for them to play. This same skill became one I used in ministry with coworkers, and other parishioners who are discerning how they can be more involved in the parish.

What women inspire you, and why?

Women who have inspired me include my biological mother, spiritual mothers, as well as St. Therese of Lisieux. St. Therese had a strong devotion to God at such a young age, and responded to her love and call whole-heartedly. Because of this, I look to her every day for guidance.

Are there friends and mentors that you depend upon? How do they support you?

My mentor, Angie Pometto, was a huge help. She made me think outside of the box, and broader than what I was originally planning.

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 love praying the rosary and praying the liturgy of the hours. It brings me peace throughout my day, even if praying while completing house work or my daily walk.

Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?

My favorite inspirational quote is from St. Theresa of Calcutta, “Be faithful in small
things because it is in them that your strength lies.”

What were your key takeaways from the GIVEN Forum?

My key takeaways from Given are many! The Forum allowed me time to be away from work to focus on my relationship with God. It also allowed me to find a community of women, like me, who seek to mirror God’s love to others.

What was your GIVEN action plan? Describe its mission, audience, and impact.

My Given Action Plan is a program to assist parents in guiding their families on how
to live liturgically and engage with the Church liturgies and community. Through this
program, I plan to teach parents about the liturgy, how to encourage family prayer at
home, and start discussions after and about the mass.

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?

The motivation behind this Action Plan came from soon becoming a mother to an 8-year-old boy. My fiancé and I plan on marrying in September, and I have realized there are not many materials out there in order to support family liturgical living. This idea was on my heart for a few months, however, Given helped me develop the plan in order for it to blossom into what it is today.

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?

This year I grew in gratefulness. I began to see things in myself and others that I had not realized before. There were times where I did feel I was taking on too much of a challenge, however, remembering my gifts and the importance of fostering them helped me continue to drive forward.

What were some of the fruits you saw from your action plan? What did you find most fulfilling in this process?

Through the execution of my Action Plan, I saw how parents became more involved in the Church, and returned week after week ready to engage with the new topic for the day.