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Ministering to Faith

02-24-2009
Resident Ministry

Jacklyn Gonzalez ’07 knows about the strains of undergraduate life at the University of San Francisco. From pulling overnighters during finals week to being the first female in her family to graduate from college, she’s been there, done that. Now a graduate theology student and resident minister intern for University Ministry, she goes out of her way to offer guidance to younger students.

“As a former undergraduate, I understand, in some manner, what our students are going through and I enjoy being a mentor to them,” said Gonzalez, a resident ministry intern (RMI) in Hayes-Healy Hall.

One of 17 RMIs for University Ministry who live on or near campus, Gonzalez encourages students to explore the spiritual side of their life and its connection to their experience at USF. In short, Gonzalez, like the other RMIs, acts as a pastoral presence in the residence halls, and organizes and takes part in a variety of programs and volunteer opportunities, including community action, spiritual retreats, and immersions.

“As a Jesuit university, we encourage our students to be aware of their own ability to explore God, the divine, their path towards enlightenment and meaning, and eventually connect that to their life experiences and their connection to the world,” said Don Crean, associate director of University Ministry.

Gonzalez, a fan of comedian George Lopez who loves to laugh, said she was inspired to take on the job of resident ministry intern by a previous RMI who worked with her during her years as an undergraduate at USF.

“She was a great role model to me and ever since then, I really wanted to participate and felt called to this type of ministry,” said Gonzalez, a Catholic who believes there are many paths to God or the divine.

An intern for University Ministry’s liturgy and music program, she is involved in preparations for the 9 p.m. Sunday student masses and special masses at Xavier Chapel in Fromm Hall and St. Ignatius Church.

“I offer my service to the church as a minister of the Eucharist, which involves the distribution of the body of Jesus Christ during the Mass,” she said.

USF resident ministry interns practice a range of religions, including Catholicism, Buddhism, and Protestantism, among others. They also come from diverse backgrounds and professions, perhaps none as surprising as Ricky Nogueiro’s.

Raised in Zimbabwe until he was 21, Nogueiro earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Central Connecticut State University in 2008. From there, he went on to work at a New York-based hedge fund, inputting data and conducting financial reconciliations while watching his bosses make billions of dollars off the housing crisis by short-selling stocks.

“I found it to be offensive,” said Nogueiro, who has seen life from the other extreme in Zimbabwe, where 1 million citizens are forecast to starve in 2009. “Hence the switch to social justice and San Francisco.”

Also a resident ministry intern in Hayes-Healy Hall, Nogueiro has applied to the Asia Pacific studies program for spring 2009. He hopes to transfer into economics from there, where he can better help his countrymen.

“I believe that the skills I will obtain from these programs will enable me to converse on many levels with business people, leaders, and politicians to advocate for the rights of those that don’t have a voice,” Nogueiro said.

Working as an RMI is fulfilling because it allows him to tap into his faith and passion for social justice to educate students about issues facing the world through concrete examples, including community action and immersions, Nogueiro said.

Written by Edward Carpenter »usfnews@usfca.edu