By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published September 19, 2019 | En Español
ATLANTA—Lucia Baez Luzondo hopes to lead Catholics and parishes to an appreciation of the gifts of other cultural families.
Luzondo took up the position of director of the archdiocesan Office of Intercultural Ministries at the beginning of September.
She and her husband, Ricardo, moved to Atlanta from the Archdiocese of San Antonio, where the 56-year-old served as director of the Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. The couple host a live radio program and television series on the EWTN Spanish station. They have a son attending the University of Dallas.
Luzondo worked as an attorney for more than 20 years specializing in family and immigration law. She remains a member of the bar in Florida. Her husband is a retired pediatric neurology physician. The couple spoke about American family life in 2015 to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Luzondo recently answered questions from The Georgia Bulletin about faith and her new role:
Tell us about your family growing up. Where did you live? What did you mom and dad do for work? What was your family faith life like?
I grew up in a very close knit and loving Catholic family. I attended Colegio Calasanz, in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, a Catholic school led by the Piarist priests and religious. For that reason, I am a strong supporter of Catholic education. My father was a merchant and my mother a stay-at-home mom. My parents were believers and prayer was an important part of our lives. In 1981 we moved to Orlando, Florida, when the Hispanic community was minimal, and there were no Hispanic Catholic communities. My father passed in 1991 and two weeks later, my sister had an extremely premature delivery of her first son, Alex. Suddenly, I was in charge fully of my widowed mother and sister with a severely handicapped child. That is when the Lord called me back to the active practice of the faith.
You have served as director of the Office of Marriage and Family Life in the Archdiocese of Miami and as director for Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth in the Archdiocese of San Antonio. What drew you to church ministry?
As an attorney, I was able to discern the source of all family conflict was the absence of God in their lives. I realized there were many attorneys to attend to people’s problems once they were irretrievable, but few were working to bring them to the Lord and his church to heal their wounds and equip them with the hope, liberating truth, knowledge and skills. In 2011, the Lord called me to close my law practice to fully serve the church.
What are you excited to learn more about in the Archdiocese of Atlanta?
I want to look deeper into the diversity of our local church, the cultural families present and active in our faith community, the dynamics among all cultural families, their hopes, dreams, lights and shadows, and above all, their needs, so from our Office of Intercultural Ministries we can break down the barriers of “otherness,” welcome and embrace all, open and offer places of encounter, and build bridges among all cultural families. In so doing, I believe we will truly be Catholic, a church universal where all are called, welcome, included and truly become one.
Increasingly, parishes host different cultural groups under one roof. What steps can a parishioner from one cultural group take to build a bridge with another?
Take steps to tear down the barrier and fear of “otherness” by truly getting to know each other. Provide practical and accessible formation in intercultural competencies, where all cultural families work on learning from and understanding each other.
Create spaces of encounter where all can partake without fear of losing our place at the table, but instead grow in holiness and numbers from the gifts of other cultural families.
Who is a person you admire and why?
The God-man, our Lord Jesus Christ, as a living person, my husband Ricardo, in my view, the epitome of a Christian man and authentic masculinity; and among the saints, St. John Paul II as he gifted the church with the most solid, eternal, comprehensive, beautiful and true theology of the human person, Christian anthropology, our call to love and to serve through the vocation the Lord calls us.
For more information on the work of the Office of Intercultural Ministries, visit archatl.com/offices/office-of-intercultural-ministries/.