By Violeta Rocha
Special to The Texas Catholic
A recent graduate of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, Edith Torres Monzón arrived at the Diocese of Dallas in July to serve as the associate director of Outreach and Diversity Office of Youth, Young Adult and Campus Ministries.
A native of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico, Torres came to the United States at the age of 11. Her family settled in Michigan, where they made the parish of St. Francis de Sales a second home.
It was thanks to the experiences she had belonging to that parish that Torres said she cultivated a strong desire to serve the community. As years passed, her desire transformed into a deep passion that led her to go to college and study theology.
We recently sat down with Torres to talk about her role in promoting multicultural awareness in the Diocese of Dallas and what she hopes to accomplish in the Hispanic youth ministry called Pastoral Juvenil Hispana.
Was your family a pillar to find your true vocation?
Yes. There are two things that I thank my family for: that they nurtured the Catholic faith in me and that they supported me to be able to study. I am referring not only to my parents and siblings, but also to my grandparents, uncles and cousins who are in Mexico. Each one of them has been a key piece in my development. Without their support, I would not be where I am. They have given me tremendous spiritual support.
What inspired you to work with young people?
It was my involvement with the youth group in Michigan. In the summer of 2017, I discovered that our group was not the only Hispanic youth group and that there were more across the country. I knew that there was a whole methodology to work, funds and training. When I finished that training, I said to myself, “This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.” Thanks to the guidance of my pastor, I studied theology at the University of Notre Dame in 2019 and right after I graduated as a social worker. I worked in the Diocese of Lafayette in Indiana as part of my graduate program. I came to Dallas as a result of my job search.
After more than three months in the Diocese of Dallas, what are your expectations?
I am very happy because this diocese has a lot of potential. The Hispanic Youth Ministry has very deep roots. For example, in 2023, that ministry will celebrate 40 years of history. I feel very excited because that gives me the opportunity to be creative, keeping in mind that the needs of 40 years ago are completely different today and even more after the pandemic. I have the support of the rest of the team to try new ways to minister to the Hispanic youth and reach not only those belonging to the first generation, but second, third and even those in the fourth generation. That will allow us to build a solid foundation among those that are teenagers today and ensure that in the future they find a place within the Church.
What priorities do you see in terms of the development and evolution of the Hispanic Youth Ministry?
The main thing for me is to be a direct support for the boards of directors of each parish youth group. On behalf of the diocesan office, I am the direct contact with them and I am also the main trainer for each of these teams. My job is to accompany them, provide resources and train them as volunteers. We see the Hispanic Youth Ministry as an opportunity to respond to the particular needs of generations that usually speak more Spanish and whose experience of the Catholic faith is greatly influenced by their countries of origin, their parents and their grandparents.
How important it is for a young immigrant person to be part of a youth group?
It is very important and I say this as a young immigrant myself. It is part of their identity and history since it provides what a young person needs most when arriving in a new country: community and a sense of belonging and family. In my case, one of the things that I noticed the most when I arrived in Michigan was that I felt at home when I went to Mass. That gave me a sense of belonging, made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I believe that it is exactly the same thing that a young immigrant experiences when he or she joins a group of young people in his or her parish: they meet others who are going through similar situations and who have found shelter, answers and spiritual nourishment that allows them to overcome all the challenges that come with being an immigrant.
A version of this story originally appeared in the October 2022 edition of Revista Católica, the official Spanish-language magazine of the Diocese of Dallas.