, who has been named the Safe Environment manager at our Pastoral Center, has been on quite a trip before she accepted this function and responsibility.
She started as a public health nurse with Fresno County in 1978. In1982 when her first child was born, a son named Alan, she continued doing nurse education but part time. With five children, she became a full-time mother but in 2004 she entered the New Wine program, for she felt called to work in Church ministry. This was based on a conversion experience that she had in 1988, when she very strongly felt God’s presence in her life. She then wanted to know everything about her faith and so she started Bible study, attended various conferences, listened to tapes. As she said, “My desire to learn about Jesus, the Catholic Church and my Catholic faith became a profound hunger and thirst. I had to know.” In 1990 she took over the leadership of the adult Bible Study class at Holy Spirit Church. But shortly she became more involved in general adult faith formation, because she felt it was a very strong necessity for our people.
In 2010, she found it necessary to be at home to help take care of her mother-in-law who was developing dementia. A year later when it was necessary to put her into a full-living facility, she happened to meet Teresa Dominguez who was thinking of retiring from her position as Safe Environment manager, so she became an intern for her. On July 1 of this year, she became the manager herself.
As Safe Environment manager, it is her obligation to organize and oversee the compliance of the parishes and schools and our Pastoral Center regarding Safe Environment guidelines. This concerns all employees and volunteers who work with youth, but there are also concerns and guidelines for those who do not work with youth. Cheryl Sarkisian is very excited about her work.
The only religious aspect of Teresa Dominguez growing up was the fact that her father was a singer with a local Baptist choir, and then she had an experience in the fourth grade of her public school. Her class took a tour of Mission San Miguel, which is about ten miles north of Paso Robles on Route 101. There she had a powerful sense of God’s presence.
At the age of 25, she asked God to show her that He existed. The next day the sky was blue and for her that was the beginning, for everything began to unfold, leading her to the Catholic Church. She was baptized and quickly became involved in parish ministries, especially with youth, at St. Brigid’s in Hanford.
By 1989 she was working full time in the parish office and became involved in various parish ministries. She became the director of its Religious Education programs, adult faith formation, catechist formation, lay ministry formation. Finally during a retreat at Three Rivers, she received a strong sense of being called to surrender to whatever the Church needed. She reflected and in 2005 decided to become a volunteer at the Pastoral Center, specifically the Family Life Ministry. Safe Environment was a part of that ministry, and within six months it became a ministry in itself.
About a year ago, she felt she had done as much as she could with Safe Environment and so asked God what would be next for her. She prepared Cheryl Sarkisian for the job and waited. As she said, “It’s time to be grateful for what has been and to be open to something new.”
That something new was the office of Chancellor of the Diocese.With a passion for education, she finished a degree program at Fresno Pacific University, which was extraordinary for her, and has started a new program there in urban ministry. She feels that everything she has studied at Fresno Pacific has deepened and broadened her opportunity to serve the Church.
As Chancellor she will serve the Curia and the Bishop and be open to whatever responsibility given her by him. She has a strong focus on organization but is also strongly people-oriented, so no matter how much paper work she will have, she sees it all as related to people. In her work, she will be closely related to Mary Cardona, the Bishop’s Executive Assistant, and to Yoni Hepinger in her function in areas of publication.
was born in Torrance, California and raised in Gardena, California. She attended El Camino College, Cal-State Los Angeles and Fresno City College. When she first came to work here at the Pastoral Center it was with Msgr Myron Cotta in the Missions office, but then she moved to become Fr. Dan Avila’s assistant in the Vocations office. Then recently she considered herself greatly honored when she was chosen to be Executive Assistant to the Bishop. This is a new function here. Previously the Bishop had a secretary, now he has an assistant. The function gives her greater authority to manage and coordinate the Bishop’s heavy calendar with internal and external parties, administrators and dignitaries.
Smiles are very important to Mary: she has a plaque on her desk as a reminder that in times of distress “smile”. As she said, “I love the fact that I can express my freedom of religion and despite the heavy workload when I leave the office at the end of the day I feel very satisfied and with a ‘smile’. In the end we’re all here for a ministry to serve others.”