Cardinal Roger Mahony formally commissioned three lay women and one deacon as parish pastoral associates this month. The commissioning was done at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles on Sept. 9.
According to the Los Angeles diocesan paper, The Tidings, pastoral associates are “professional ministers who share with their pastors the overall care of the parish.” They are usually full-time members of the parish staff and “accountable to the pastor.”
The Los Angeles Times featured one of the associates in their Sept. 10 issue. Noel Fuentes Becker, 42, has been assigned to St. Raphael Church, near Santa Barbara.
For 15 years, Becker was a technical writer in the high-tech industry. She left a six-figure salary in 2003 to become the parish’s administrative manager.
Her new role as pastoral associate will be to assist the pastor, Fr. Bruce Correio, in adult faith education and ministries coordination. She will also help with graveside services and prayer services.
Her pastor had suggested that she enter the archdiocese’s pastoral associates’ program. In May 2006, she received her master’s in theology in pastoral ministry from St. John’s Seminary, Camarillo, and was certified as a pastoral associate.
Having gone through a divorce and annulment a decade ago, Becker told the Tidings she believes she will be able to help those who are going through the annulment process.