Paola Quintero-Araújo appointed director of faith formation

by Mary Lou Seewoester

Correspondent

April 8, 2015

Paula Quintero-Araújo began April 1 as Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Fort Worth. Previously, she was coordinator of hispanic ministries at St. Micheal Catholic Church in Bedford. (Photo courtesy Laura Bute)

When Paola Quintero-Araújo moved to Dallas in 1998, her plan was to practice dentistry. 

But the Holy Spirit had another plan that nudged her in a different direction and eventually led to her selection as the new Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Fort Worth, a position she started April 1. 

Quintero-Araújo, a native of Colombia, was just looking for a Spanish Mass to attend while living and working in Dallas. But that search led to several years of ministry with Hispanic youth and young adults in the Diocese of Dallas. 

“I was working all day and then working for the church in the evenings … and I found much more joy in working with the Church,” she explained. 

That realization and some discernment led to a Masters in Theology from the University of Notre Dame and a two-year apprenticeship with the Director of Religious Education (DRE) at St. Michael Church in Bedford. In 2010, she became Coordinator of Hispanic Ministries there. 

Quintero-Araújo, who is bilingual, will work primarily with DREs, Children’s Religious Education (CRE) programs, and catechists working in both the English and Spanish programs.

 “There is a great need for formation of Hispanic catechists as well as more opportunities for formation of English-speaking catechists,” she said. “I hope to develop a system throughout the whole diocese for sharing resources, best practices, and having more opportunities to network with each other and see what has worked in some places and what hasn’t worked. It doesn’t mean that one thing will work everywhere but at least,” she said, “we’ll have more options and resources for DREs and CREs.” 

Marlon De La Torre, Department Director for Catechesis for the diocese, explained that Quintero-Araújo’s position was previously named Director of Children’s Catechesis. However, since 2011, the position evolved to include much more than children’s catechesis, so a change in the job title was in order.

 “There is a little bit greater outreach because everything will be done in English and Spanish,” De La Torre said. “We wanted to expand the position to go beyond just the foundational pieces related to catechist formation, DREs, and curriculum.” 

He said that during his tenure in that position, he expanded the job to include some aspects of pastoral work with an emphasis on supporting Hispanic communities.   

 “Paola also will be able to do leadership training, retreats, and workshops to form catechetical leaders in that way as well. That’s how the position evolved, and Paola is the perfect fit for that to continue. She’s going to naturally be able to take that over and run with it,” he added.

Quintero-Araújo also hopes to help parishes find ways to bring more parent involvement to Children’s Religious Education so that instruction will have continuity from the home to the classroom, while strengthening the bonds between parents and children as they share their faith. 

 “I know our religion has been passed to us from what our grandmothers, and our parents taught us, and that is a great part of who we are as Christian Catholics,” she said. “In all those traditions and devotions that get passed down through generations in our families, there are rays of the Gospel and there are truths of the Gospel. And we also need to dig a little bit and to focus on what the Church teaches about them.”

As Coordinator of Hispanic Ministries at St. Michael Church, Quintero-Araújo continually assessed the community’s needs and responded with a variety of programs in Spanish including marriage preparation, quinceañera preparation, and parent sessions for sacramental preparation. She also facilitated Why Catholic?; Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism; Women in the Old Testament, Women in the New Testament, by Maria P. Septien; and Sediente de Dios for Lenten preparation. And when parishioners started asking questions about things they’d heard in secular media about Pope Francis, she began a weekly discussion group using the actual text of Pope Francis’ catechesis during his general audiences.

For the past two years, she also taught courses in both English and Spanish for the John Paul II Institute. 

When asked about the challenge of moving from parish ministry to diocesan ministry, Quintero-Araújo said, “I think you can receive your greatest joy out of your greatest challenge. The biggest challenge for me,” she said, “will be to get to know the whole diocese. And every parish will have a different reality and different need. The greatest joy will come from that because I will get to learn from them and from what they are doing, and hopefully support them in becoming even better at what they’re doing.” 
     

When Paola Quintero-Araújo moved to Dallas in 1998, her plan was to practice dentistry. 

But the Holy Spirit had another plan that nudged her in a different direction and eventually led to her selection as the new Director of Faith Formation for the Diocese of Fort Worth, a position she started April 1. 

Quintero-Araújo, a native of Colombia, was just looking for a Spanish Mass to attend while living and working in Dallas. But that search led to several years of ministry with Hispanic youth and young adults in the Diocese of Dallas. “I was working all day and then working for the church in the evenings … and I found much more joy in working with the Church,” she explained. 

Published (until 12/12/2031)
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