Mary was sent to explore the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in 1992 by her pastor, who had seen an atrium at another parish. Falling in love with the work, she began to build the environment with a small team of catechists. She discovered the joy with which the children received the announcement of the Gospel and saw a deep, unique relationship between God and the child.
Taking to heart the National Association vision to “make the work accessible to all,” she led a team of catechists and parents and began building atria for the service of their children at St Anne’s in Gilbert, Arizona. As she formed the atria, Gilbert quickly changed from a small bilingual farming community to the fastest growing city in the country. As the Director of the Atrium she found herself constantly faced with the question “Is this work for all our children? “ As the the atria grew to hold 1200 children, the answer was always “Yes.” She thought not about “Can we?” but rather “How can we?" At St. Anne's, Mary developed a vision that goes beyond parish borders, forming friendships which reach out both nationally and internationally. Although she no longer serves on the staff at St. Anne’s, Mary remains a catechist and formation leader in her parish.
Mary has been a formation leader since 1997, giving three to four courses a year at home and abroad. While participating in the international The Word, Eucharist and the Child conference in Assisi in 1997, Mary heard of Marie Christlieb’s work with Totonaco people of Puebla, Mexico and their great need. Mary returned home and the next summer she and members of her community traveled to Puebla to see how they might help and build an atrium, but discoverd the best way to serve the people was to send three of the Totonaco to Rome to study with Sofia herself. While there she has found that living with people in a third world environment teaches so much about Jesus’ love for poor and the least. Since that time she has also served as formation leader to those in the Diocese of Brownsville who serve the children of migrant workers, the Diocese of Toledo with En Camino Ministry who serve the migrants there, and the San Carlo Apache Reservation in Arizona. She and Lourdes Vazquez also worked with The Franciscan Friars in Honduras and the Missionaries of Charity in the East Coast Region in New York, the Midwest Region in Chicago, thier Noviate in California. She as also worked with the Missionaires in the Philippines and in Kolkatta, India.
Mary has written of her missionary work in the 1999 and the upcoming 2010 Journal of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd. She has also written of her parish work in the 2003 Journal of the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd, co-authored with Lourdes an Occasional Paper of the Center for Children and Theology on a Bilingual Atrium, and has written articles that appeared in the 2001 and the 2006 volumes of Echoes, the newsletter of the Center for Children and Theology. Mary also developed and directed the DVD, The Catechesis of the Good Shepherd: Where a Child Can Fall in Love with God.
Mary served on the Board of the National Association from 2000-2006. She was the first Development Committee chair, a founding member of CGS Fund Advisory Board and introduced the publication of The Found Coin. She was also a member of first cohort at Aquinas Institute to receive a Masters in Pastoral Ministry in the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd in January of 2010. She has worked extensively as an advocate for CGS in the Diocese of Phoenix since 1999 as catechist, a Director of Children’s Catechesis, and since 2003, as a presenter and formation leader for diocesan catechists and catechetical leaders.
Mary has been happily married for 37 years and delights in the friendship and love of her husband. She has three grown daughters with one grandson and another on the way. Her youngest daughter was the only child to live the atrium experience; the oldest has served as a level one catechist. As a native of Brooklyn New York, she loves the big city. She now lives in and loves the desert of Arizona and the dirt roads of the poorest of the poor. While Mary’s passion is for the work of CGS, she enjoys the practice of yoga with her husband, traveling anywhere in the world, and cooking big Italian family dinners on the weekends with her family and friends.