Mónica Maher, Ph.D. ’04

Categories: Alums in the World

Monica Maher photoMónica Maher, Ph.D. 2004
Pastor of Social Ministry
Quito, Ecuador

What do you do?

I serve as Pastor of Social Ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ecuador, a program of peace-building and human rights, with outreach to refugees and women survivors of violence. I also am a Professor associated with the Department of Sociology and Gender Studies at the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) Ecuador and speak in public forums on religion and the rights of women and LBGTQ people. My home church is First Church Cambridge Congregational (UCC) where I return periodically to preach.

What’s the best thing about your job?

My work is very diverse, always filled with opportunities to meet interesting people with amazing life stories of courage, resiliency and faith. It is extremely satisfying to represent a progressive face of religion in a region where fundamentalist religion dominates public and private life. I feel like I am making a difference, filling a great need. There is an extreme thirst for a lived spirituality that nourishes the human soul and furthers human progress for just peace, transforming the violence perpetuated for centuries in the name of God.

How did Union prepare you for this?

I continue to draw upon my research and writing from Union, adapting and expanding it to meet my new setting. Union exposed me to challenging new perspectives in the classroom and in community life, allowing me to experience unity in diversity. I learned to listen, to appreciate difference, to find my own voice and develop my unique gifts.   Everyday now I must engage cross-culturally as a leader in a multiplicity of forms, and Union prepared me well for this.

How have you stayed connected to Union?

Yes. I am connected to my former doctoral advisor, former doctoral colleagues, and former students. Recently, I went to Colombia to con-celebrate the wedding of a former student, now colleague. I follow Union news on the website and through the mail.   In Ecuador, I have met two other Union alumnae, and we have had an instant sense of connection.

What would you say to someone considering going to Union?

Go for it. Visit the school, talk to students, talk to faculty, read the mission statement, study the history. Trust your sense of whether it is right for you. If you are lucky, it will be a fit.