“She has a strong understanding of Catholic Social Teaching, because she has lived it,” said Sister Chilee Okoko, DMMM, director of the Department of Life, Dignity and Justice, which oversees Sr. Del Villar’s office. “We hope to tap into her wealth of experience and knowledge to move this ministry of the diocese to a higher state than in previous years.”
As the director of the Office of Social Concerns, Sr. Del Villar will work to promote Catholic Social Teaching through advocacy, formation and education and through collaboration with other offices and local groups.
“I’m very joyful of the teamwork that is going on with the office and the department,” Sr. Del Villar said. “I hope my experience will be of service in strengthening the advocacy programs in the different areas of justice and peace.”
She spent several years ministering in Venezuela, the Philippines, Mexico, El Salvador and other countries, focusing her attention on upholding the rights of the indigenous, migrants and people affected by domestic violence and sexual abuse.
“I felt very much attracted to this position,” Sr. Del Villar said. “These last three years have renewed my conscious of hearing the cry of the people.”
Most recently Sr. Del Villar worked with the Conference of Men and Women Religious in El Salvador. There she focused on the issues of human trafficking and immigration.
“I feel that calling deeply to hear the cries of the men, women and children who are made vulnerable,” Sr. Del Villar says. “They need us to journey with them, regain their dignity and recover from deep wounds.
“Hearing their stories, hopes and desires helps me understand that God is with each one of us.”
One of the main goals is making progress in the establishment of social concerns ministries at the parish level.
“This is something that we have been struggling with for the last 10 years because of the vastness of the Diocese. With Sr. Hortencia, and a new associate director, we hope it will be easier to realize this goal,” Sr. Okoko said.
Sr. Del Villar wants to increase the number of parishes that have a social concerns ministry.
She said she anticipates that her first year in the Office of Social Concerns will be one of listening and learning. She has begun introducing herself to the different ministries present in the Diocese and looks forward to gaining a better understanding of the Diocese’s mission.
“I feel like I’m entering sacred ground. I’m in the process of taking off my shoes and preparing to learn, listen and dialogue,” Sr. Del Villar said. “I am deeply grateful for this opportunity.”