CTU, a place for all: Luz Eugenia Alvarez
Luz Eugenia Alvarez, originally from Durango City, Mexico, is an Oscar Romero Scholar completing the Master of Divinity degree and working on certificates in both Hispanic Theology and Spiritual Formation at CTU. The Oscar Romero Scholars Program offers Hispanic lay men and women a full-tuition scholarship for a professional graduate degree that prepares them to minister in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Luz’ personal reflection follows.
When I first came to the U.S., I realized the need for Hispanic ministers to serve the country’s growing Hispanic population. I returned to Mexico with this in my mind and heart, and decided to see if my realization was a call from God or just a crazy idea.
My calling has been confirmed through working in Hispanic ministry in parishes and Hispanic diocesan offices in Mississippi, southern Illinois and Chicago, as well as at the Instituto de Liderazgo Pastoral of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Along the way, I realized that even though I had theological, spiritual and psychological formation, I needed to be better prepared and certified to serve God’s people in the way they deserve, and to be competitive as a woman in a male-dominated Church. Therefore, even though I experienced struggles – including some people telling me that I was not going to make it – I pursued further education.
When I first visited CTU, I saw the street banners that read “Catholic Theological Union: A Place for All." When I began classes I realized that it is true. No matter what nationality, gender, age, faith or religion you are, CTU is a place for all. With its international environment, I did not feel like a stranger or foreigner. I felt at home. It is an experience of Church where each person is treated with dignity, respect and equality. After four years of studying here, CTU has changed me.
I came to CTU understanding God as a male figure, which has sustained patriarchy in the Church and its consequential diminishment of women. I came with an understanding of individualistic salvation and a focus on rituals and piety. I came as Mexican, thinking that assimilation was not a bad idea, because I had decided to live in the U.S. after all. CTU – a place for all – has changed those understandings.
CTU is where God is not male or female, has no color or race, but Who is the source of life and love. God is Trinity that calls us to live in community, equality, collaboration and self-love. At CTU I have learned that the “f” word—feminism—is not a bad word. Feminism is about understanding and living as ourselves, from God and not from men. It is about walking in solidarity with women around the world to appropriate the liberation given by Jesus, who came to tell us that we are daughters of God, not second class beings, and that we have equal dignity with our brothers. I have been called to own my dignity, and to help my sisters be free and to find their own female identity and voice in the Church and society.
I’ve learned that I cannot be Christian pursuing holiness and salvation and just sit in a pew at Sunday Mass or Eucharistic adoration without being committed to justice, especially for women, in our society, politics and Church. CTU is a place for all that has created programs to support, promote and celebrate the diversity of the cultures and races that make our church catholic. CTU made a place in the Tolton Program for African Americans and in the Romero Program for Hispanics and Latino(a)s.
The Romero Program has been an awakening that we, Latinos and Latinas, are called to be yeast in the U.S. Church and society. Latino(a)s are called to make present the Kingdom of God where there is no slave, free man, male or female, white, brown or black, but only we who are one in Christ (See Colossians 3:11).
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