Lucia Baez Luzondo
Lucia Baez Luzondo, Barry MA in Practical Theology and Ministry student, was selected in the summer of 2011 to serve as director of Family Life Ministry in the Archdiocese of Miami. Luzundo's work involves designing and implementing Archdiocesan programs and services within local parishes.
Luzondo is an accomplished attorney. She served previously as a volunteer speaker in the Family Life office and as Content Development Officer for Por Tu Matrimonio (the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop's Spanish initiative on marriage and family).
When asked about the relationship between her MA studies and her new responsibilities, Luzondo said, "The theological and ministerial knowledge, insights, and skills I have gained have better equipped me to face the challenges of the Archdiocesan Family Life Ministry. It was actually through the relationships formed at Barry that God placed me in this ministry."
Alex Garvey, Chaplain, Holy Cross Hospital
Hello, my name is Alex Garvey. I am 42 years old and a Barry Graduate Student currently working towards my Masters of Arts in Practical Theology and Ministry. I am writing this little biography, at the request of Sr. Gloria Schaab, to share with you a piece of my life's journey so far.
I was born in Cork City, Ireland, on a winding cobblestoned street, yes…just like you see in the movies, under the shadow of St. Finbarr's cathedral. I am the eldest of three boys. We all attended Presentation Brothers College for primary and secondary education. Life was good, our mother was a stay-at-home mom, and our friends' moms were, too...Oh, how things have changed. My father was a supervisor in a local factory. We shared a traditional Catholic upbringing with Mass on Sundays and Holy Days and Rosaries and processions for Mary during the month of May. I was an alter server for the Sisters of Mercy, whose Convent and school were on the other side of St. Finbarr's cathedral. At eighteen years of age, I boldly declined the opportunity of third-level education (aha, to be young and naïve) and set shores for America -- Fort Lauderdale to be precise.
America was bold and exciting and, at that time, full of a lot of other young Irish people. I mainly worked in physical jobs, usually in construction. I attended a little junior college, just enough to get me an inspector's job with an engineering firm. The work was tough, but life was good. I had met the love of my life, Tricia, and had begun dating.
I never really left my religious roots, and I still felt myself to be Catholic (to be honest, not a consistently practicing one), but would often find myself in church asking the age-old question…"What's it all about?" It was about this time I began to experience a strange phenomenon; it's hard to describe, but the best way to explain it was that it had a sort of "yearning" quality to it. I would attend church on a regular base when my mother visited me, but I'm not sure if I was doing it out of respect, tradition, or both.
I had begun working in public housing; the job paid very little, but I found the work very rewarding. I enjoyed working with the underprivileged. Still I always felt that there was something more, something that I was missing. I took the opportunity to move to a more financially rewarding position in restaurant management. The money was good, but the hours were long. I still had the "yearning"; it seemed to ebb and flow. Due to the nature of my work, I had a lot of free time during the days. I became friendly with my church pastor, and he suggested that I begin doing some hospital visits. The very first morning I walked through the door of the hospital, the "yearning" left, never to return, and I knew immediately this is where I needed to be. Upon the advice of my pastor, I began the Archdiocese lay-ministry program. This was a great beginning to formation, and during the summer, I was allowed to "intern" at Holy Cross Hospital. It was here, in the Spiritual Care Department that I first learned about Barry University. As it turns out the department's director, and several of the chaplains all received their degrees at Barry.
So the journey continues. I contacted Barry and immediately Fr. Mark Wedig, O.P., PhD, asked me to come and meet with him. As soon we began to speak, I knew that this is where I needed to be. He laid down the ground work and explained to me where I was at that time academically and showed me where I needed to be. Barry was the University that could do it. He put me in contact with Sr. Gloria Schaab, SSJ, PhD, who would be my mentor and academic advisor. Sr. Gloria has been a great strength and a wonderful advisor.
I truly love Barry. From the minute you walk into the Theology Department, you are greeted by smiling faces. The class sizes are small and are diverse. The professors forge an atmosphere for learning; this is achieved through open doors and welcomes. The atmosphere is one of open dialog where people from many different faith traditions, cultures and creeds come to share openly and honestly. The classes are relaxed and the professors are always available to help you achieve your goals. It is in the true quest for knowledge during these classes that God is revealed.
On a professional level, my education at Barry has given me a theological awareness of the crucial role a chaplain performs within hospital ministry. I have been made keenly aware of the sense of God's mystery as it unfolds at the bedside. I understand the theological implications which make up hospital ministry, and what I bring to it as a chaplain, to be a mission.
I have married my sweetheart Tricia, and we have a wonderful son named...what else, but Finbarr! And I am full-time Chaplain at Holy Cross, covering Hospice/Oncology and the Emergency Department. Each day, I thank God for leading me to Barry University.
Being a part of the Barry University Master of Arts in Practical Theology and Ministry (MAPT) program has changed my life for the better as well as altering my outlook on the world altogether. As one of the only institutions in the country founded by women, the nurture and sense of belonging that accompany being a Barry student facilitate growth and personal development in ways that are difficult to put into words.
It was at Barry that I first realized my love for theology and theological study. The MAPT program provides a stimulating environment with a diverse student body that combines cutting-edge material with a strong analytical, ethical and historical base. The curriculum is fascinating and keeps up with the times while maintaining strong values, tied to its mission of providing quality education in an environment free of hatred and injustice. The MAPT program not only explores what we know of God but how this understanding of the Divine compels us to dynamic action throughout the world.
Without Barry University I would not be the person I am today. The MAPT program has prepared me to practice good theology for the rest of my life as well as connecting me to the great minds I hope to stay in contact with for years to come - both professors and students.
Karen Stalnaker, Theology Teacher and Youth Group Leader
When I first came to Barry in 2003, I had very little idea that I would be in the MA program in Practical Theology and Ministry several years later. I am in Theology largely due to the faculty and their personal interest in my life, which includes mentoring spiritually and intellectually.
On a personal note, when I entered Barry University, I was starting over in my life and had little confidence in my abilities. Besides providing a first-class education, I was really cared for by the professors on a level that is unheard of in most universities. Barry University provides an environment that really makes a difference in their students' lives. Most importantly, the professors are available to meet with their students and provide assistance throughout their education.
I am a second-year Theology teacher, and because of the education I have been provided, I have been given new responsibilities at my school. I now teach three Bible classes and also teach a new course called Peer Ministry. This class is designed to form Christians so they can be Peer Leaders in our school. I am also leading a Youth Group which had forty students when started and because of its popularity has grown to an average of seventy- five students. This is extremely important to mention because I would not have had the ability to facilitate such a group without my education at Barry University.
Additionally, I would like to acknowledge the student – professor ratio that is extremely important when choosing a university. I had previously attended another university in the area and felt like most professors were too busy or didn't care to get to know their students. I have been extremely happy with my choice of Barry University and realize that not only have I received a wonderful education but also my professors have become an integral part of my life.