This talented group of ministers and theologians helped give shape to this year’s gathering:
Milton Javier Bravo, PhD
Loyola University Maryland
Dr. Milton Javier Bravo is the inaugural Vice President for Mission and Identity at Loyola University Maryland. Prior to this role, he served as the inaugural Vice President for Mission, Values and Inclusion at Edgewood College, a Dominican Catholic institution in the Midwest, overseeing the mission and DEI efforts of the college. Dr. Bravo has served several Catholic colleges and universities in the Northeast, working in the divisions of student enrollment, student services and academic affairs. He has received recognition for his teaching and research, including as an adjunct assistant professor of theology and religious studies at Saint John’s University in New York. He served as an associate publisher at Commonweal Magazine, where he elevated narratives and voices that reflect the current and emerging demographics in the U.S. Catholic Church, paying close attention to the growing Hispanic community. His public theology has appeared in U.S. Catholic Magazine, Commonweal Magazine, National Catholic Reporter, Jesuits News, as well as being a contributing writer for the book entitled Beyond National Catholicism: Transnational Networks of Hispanic Catholicism. His research interests include student equity and Catholic social teaching, contextual theology, ecclesiology, and U.S. Latino/Hispanic Catholicism. He currently serves on the board of directors for the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States, and for a binational non-profit called Hope Border Institute.
Ministry en lo Cotidiano Fellow
Gloria is a graduate student at Dominican University working on obtaining their Master of Social Work, with a focus on health and well-being. They recently obtained their Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Dominican University as well. Gloria is currently a Ministry en lo Cotidiano fellow with the University Ministry at Dominican and has worked alongside staff and other students to plan and execute outreach events that focus on engaging new and current students in culturally immersive events. Their hope is to create a more inclusive and culturally responsive environment at Dominican University so that students will feel welcomed.
Claudia Herrera-Montero, PhD
Dr. Claudia H. Herrera-Montero serves as Assistant Professor of Theology at Dominican University. Originally from Bogotá, Colombia, Dr. Herrera earned her undergraduate studies in International Relations and Political Sciences at Universidad del Rosario (Our Lady of the Rosary University) in Bogotá. She holds a Ph.D. in Practical Theology (2017) and an MA in Pastoral Ministries (2010) from St. Thomas University in Miami, Florida. Her doctoral dissertation, “Understanding Contemporary Practical Latino/a Theology Through the Lenses of College-Age Latinas in Their 20’s: A New Marianismo?” has expanded her participatory-action research on the faith identity, spirituality, and social location among first-generation college-age Latinas and their families in South Florida. Her research has also enabled her to better engage underrepresented communities in both the classroom and ministerial settings. She currently serves as the secretary of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States (ACHTUS). As a Latina practical theologian, she draws from the spiritual and cultural wells of both the U.S. Latinx Catholic experience and the Latin American experience.
Andrew Mercado is passionate about holistic student formation and mission integration in Catholic Higher Education. Helping students explore the enduring questions of life in the pursuit of living a meaningful and purposeful life through the lens of faith and social justice is at the heart of Andrew’s passion for student formation. He seeks to cultivate experiences and opportunities that holistically integrates the spiritual, intellectual and social development of students. Andrew is dedicated to exploring the intersections of spirituality, justice and vocation within the college student experience, while finding new ways of expressing the mission of Catholic higher education in light of the evolving social realities and needs of our world. As a first-generation student, Andrew is focused on promoting access and equity in Catholic higher education to ensure that every student has the resources and support to thrive during the formative years of their college experience Andrew holds a Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration with a concentration in Catholic higher education, spirituality, faith and formation from Boston College and a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Health Care Management from the College of Our Lady of the Elms. Andrew has served in Vocation Ministry, chaplaincy with ALANA and first-generation students, and most recently as an assistant director of campus ministry. Andrew’s cultural roots are Colombian and Puerto Rican. His experience of growing up in a vibrant Catholic Hispanic community nourishes Andrew’s passion to serve and minister within the Church in a way that reflects and integrates the diversity of the people of God. Andrew enjoys spending time in nature and loves listening to music, especially Salsa.
Hosffman Ospino, PhD
Hosffman Ospino, PhD is Professor of Theology and Religious Education at Boston College, School of Theology and Ministry where he also chairs the Department of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry. He has conducted several national studies on the Hispanic Catholic experience. Hosffman is the author and editor of 17 books and more than 200 articles, academic and general. He currently serves as an officer of the Catholic Society of America (CTSA) and is actively involved in ministry in the Archdiocese of Boston.
University of St. Thomas
Marta is originally from Costa Rica and lived several years in Puerto Rico where she served as a missionary before coming the U.S. She is a St. Thomas alum with majors in theology and Catholic studies and was part of the Latino Leadership Program. She holds a master’s degree in theology from the University of St Thomas, a graduate certificate in pastoral ministry from St. Catherine University and is currently working on her doctorate in education.
Marta has an extensive experience working with Hispanic populations in ministerial roles during the last 30 years, 10 of those years in Latin America, both in Costa Rica and Puerto Rico and the last 20 years in Minnesota, where she has served at the parish level, with Latino ministries at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and as an adjunct professor for the Spanish Pastoral Ministry Certificate at the University of St. Thomas. Marta has worked as a Campus Minister at St. Catherine University and at the University of St Thomas, Minnesota, where she has served as Director of the Office for Spirituality for six years and currently as Associate Director of Campus Ministry. Part of her role in campus ministry has been to develop programming for Hispanic students that include celebrating their faith traditions, building community of faith on campus as well as retreat opportunities.
Jorge Juan Rodríguez V, PhD
Hispanic Summer Program
Dr. Jorge Juan Rodríguez V, the son of two Puerto Rican migrants, grew up with his parents, grandmother, and uncle in a small affordable housing community in urban Connecticut. His story of diaspora, translanguaging, race, and religion propelled his academic journey, leading him to degrees in biblical studies, social theory, liberation theologies, and a PhD in history from Union Theological Seminary. His scholarship examines Fat Studies as well as the intersections of race, religion, and social movements with a particular focus on Black and Brown religious activism in the 20th century including groups like the New York Young Lords. Dr. Rodríguez is an administrator and educator. In addition to his role as Visiting Assistant Professor of Historical Studies at Union Theological Seminary, Dr. Rodríguez serves full time as the Associate Director for Strategic Programming at the Hispanic Summer Program—a nonprofit that creates year-round educational spaces for Latinx graduate students of religion. Additionally, Dr. Rodríguez frequently consults with universities and organizations across the country to help them imagine and build more just economic, curricular, and labor systems in their institutions. Learn more about his work at www.jjrodriguezv.com and follow him on twitter at @jjrodv.
Karen Ross, PhD
Catholic Theological Union
Karen Ross, PhD (she/her/ella) is a graduate program director, theology and ethics professor, and yoga and mindfulness instructor. She currently works at Catholic Theological Union as the director of the Pathways@CTU program, which seeks to engage young people—especially those from marginalized communities—in co-creating the church of tomorrow. She received her PhD in theology and ethics from Loyola University Chicago, and her research focuses on feminist ethics and Catholic sexuality education, particularly of young women and girls.
Tara Segal is currently pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree with a focus in Intercultural Studies and Ministry as a Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Scholar at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, Illinois. She holds a Master of Arts in Theology from Catholic Theological Union and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Language and Literature from the Catholic University of America. Tara served as the Director of Campus Ministry at Bishop Blanchet High School in Seattle, Washington from 2013–2017, and as Director of Campus Ministry and Mission Integration at Trinity High School in River Forest, Illinois, a Sinsinawa Dominican institution, from 2008–2013. Growing up in an interfaith home instilled in Tara a passion for interreligious dialogue. Her study and ministry have focused on accompanying others as they delve more deeply into their relationships with God and learning from others through retreats, prayer, service, and the experiences of daily life. She is particularly interested in environmental justice. Tara finds joy in reading and all things animal related.
Crystal Serrano-Puebla is a first-generation Mexican American born and raised in Chicago. After a re-conversion her junior year of college she decided to dedicate herself to helping other young people experience and know that they are loved by God. Crystal earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Lewis University and earned her master’s in theology from the University of Notre Dame with the McGrath Institute for Church Life’s Echo Program. She has had the opportunity to serve in various ministries in the Diocese of Lafayette-in-Indiana, the Archdiocese of Chicago, and the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. Crystal previously served as Assistant Program Director at Instituto Fe y Vida. Crystal is passionate about forming Church leadership to accompany the young Church to recognize their gifts and talents to serve the Church and the world.
Dr. Nabil Tueme is a sociologist and Senior Research Associate at Springtide Research Institute, a nonprofit organization that conducts applied research on the religious and spiritual lives of new generations. Dr. Tueme’s research both within and outside of Springtide focuses on the intersection of race/ethnicity, religion, and social change, particularly among Latine adolescents and young adults.
Olga Villar, DMin
Southeast Pastoral Institute
Colombian by birth, Dr. Villar immigrated with her family to Miami in 1987 when she was a teenager. She has made America her second home and has continued to grow and become who she is through studies (BA, MA and D. Min at Barry University; Diploma in Hispanic Ministry at Boston College; Diploma in Youth Ministry at Center for Development), missionary experiences (Cuba, Mexico, India, Haiti, Guatemala), experiences in WYD (Canada 2002, Germany 2005, Spain 2011), work in parishes (Corpus Christi, Miami, Florida; Our Lady Queen of Peace, Delray, Florida; St. Timothy, Miami, Florida; Immaculate Conception in Hialeah, Florida; St Juliana, West Palm Beach; Mission of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mayo, Florida; San Lázaro, Hialeah, Florida; Saint Catherine, Mobile, Alabama), jobs in schools or colleges (St. Agatha, Miami, Florida; St Hugh, Coconut Grove, Florida; SEPI, Miami, Florida), through work in Diocese (Director of Hispanic Ministry Archdiocese of Mobile, Alabama) and currently as executive director of the Southeast Pastoral Institute. Her best definition of herself: In love with Jesus and his Church.