Editorial Note: This month, we want to hold up women working in the Church whose dedication to ministry and service of God and neighbor is nothing short of inspiring. We hope you'll be inspired by their stories too.
Through her work, Andrea Blanco performs the vitally important task of supporting and forming Latino/a pastoral ministers, ensuring that they are well-equipped for the various needs of their ministries as they contribute to the continued growth and flourishing of the Hispanic Catholic Church.
Can you describe the ministry you perform for the Church?
Currently, I serve as Program Manager of the Latino Pastoral Leaders Initiative at Leadership Roundtable, which is an organization of laity, religious, and clergy working together to promote best practices and accountability in the management, finances, communications, and human resource development of the Catholic Church in the U.S., including greater incorporation of the expertise of the laity.
When I reflect upon this question, I like to describe my ministry for the Church that all the work I do is for God and serving our brothers and sisters in Christ.
What brought you to your current ministry?
It’s been a journey. I remember that I began serving the Church in my early twenties when I met my husband; he was one of the reasons that have brought me to work with the people of God. It’s also been a process of conversion, and I firmly believe that God only needs an open heart, and he'll do the rest, he'll put you where he's needed. My motive is to put into practice the two great commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind,” and, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (see Matthew 22:34–40).
What are some of the gifts or graces that you’ve received in performing your ministry?
Working for the Church and God is so rewarding. You receive the grace to experience how God is changing others’ lives, including your own life. You are God’s instrument; through you, God shows his mercy and love. I’ve seen a lot of healing, forgiveness, compassion among people and families. I’ve also seen communities that have grown, supported each other, who have made through difficult times, and have ended in strong leadership.
What are some of the challenges you face in your ministry for the Church?
There are so many challenges that we have to face in serving the Church. One of them has been to prove others the important presence of Hispanics in the Catholic Church and the responsibility we have to support them with programs that serve them so they might become great leaders who tend to their communities, their brothers and sisters in Christ.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned in your ministerial experience?
One of the biggest lessons I've learned is the importance of teamwork among ministerial groups; everybody has something good, something to offer, something to bring. We only need a good leader who can lead them in the right direction and who can appreciate and use their talents and gifts, then we’ll witness the positive impact that this will have on the entire community.
What advice would you offer to other people—women especially—who seek to serve in the Church?
Although I’ve also noticed that women's presence is primordial, and we are always making significant contributions to the Catholic Church, there are some women who still often face sexism. God created women and men equal to one another, and we complement one another (see Genesis 1:27). We have different opinions and different ways to see and experience things. My advice would be that, regardless of the challenges and setbacks you may encounter in expanding the Kingdom of God, never get discouraged. If God put into your heart the desire to serve others, he will sustain you when the hard times come.