By Gordon Nary
Gordon: When and why did you choose Assumption to be your parish?
Valeria: I have been a member of Assumption since December 23, 2002. Our selection of residence was based upon location and my immediate access to a Catholic Church.
Gordon: What changes at Assumption have you noticed over the years?
Valeria: Increase in participation at masses and some growth of families. New ministries such as Taize Prayer; increase in The Chicago Help Initiative participation; renewal of facility; addition and loss of priests.
Gordon: You are the co-founder of the Institute of Inclusion. Their core principle that "Diversity and inclusion is first and foremost a matter of social justice" should also be a core value in all of our lives. Could you comment on why inclusion and diversity is the foundation of social justice?
Valeria: Social justice implies that there is recognition of the social context of all persons regardless of their stations in life. The poor; aged; non-Caucasian; immigrant; woman and child and all those who are adversely impacted by the social constructs of society: (political, economic, religion, health), all persons have a God given right to parity and support to overcome adversity. Those who “have” and can influence, are responsible to serve others through stewardship. My philosophy: Everyone has the capability to be all they want, could, or should be if provided the support and service from those who have.
Gordon: In your opinion, what can the US Catholic Church do to help reduce the gun violence that plagues so many of our cities and that was so frightenly demonstrated in Chicago this past 4th of July when 82 of our neighbors were shot, 16 fatally? Are we doing all we can to follow Christ's commandment to love our neighbor when some of us remain silent as this violence continues?
Valeria: The Church is doing as much as they can within a society that has been founded on the importance of guns. The separation of church and state, from which the Constitution was based protects gun laws. Guns are a basis of the economy: manufacturing; sport; and the pipeline to keep prison beds filled. Unfortunately, the poor, people of color, and immigrants are part of the supply. The irony: church going people are also gun caring and NRA advocates.
Gordon Your comments at the High Performance Workforce Summit 2015 in Atlanta where you pointed out that "There's sill am paucity of racial, gender and sexual orientation demographics in leadership or in decision-making roles. We still see inequality in hiring, promotions and salaries." demonstrate that Assumption and all of us are blessed to have your leadership.