Martha Villegas Miranda, coordinator of ministry outreach at Lewis University, received the 2012 St. Francis Xavier Partnership in Mission Award at the Joliet Diocese Partnership in Mission’s 8th annual Faith Promise Dinner.
“Martha is a special person who is dedicated to our mission, her love and passion for the university mission leads others in a Christ-like manner. She inspires others to serve during mission and upon returning home,” commented Bruce Carlson, missions coordinator in the Joliet Diocesan Office of Human Dignity.
The St. Francis Xavier Award is presented to a missioner of the Joliet Diocese who has demonstrated special dedication to the mission of the diocese, an exemplary mission spirit and a Christ-like example, serving as an inspiration to others. As a treasured missionary of the university mission, Villegas Miranda received the award this year. Villegas Miranda plays a key role in the University Ministry team, providing strength and humble support to each mission group.
“I was humbled and honored to receive this prestigious award from the Diocese of Joliet for my work on the University Mission for the past 12 years. I dedicated this award to my parents, Francisco and Martha Villegas, who inspired me at a young age to live out my faith in action as they volunteered in our local church and community. But I received it on behalf of all the workers, cooks, moms, indigenous people, religious women and men in Sucre, Bolivia who live the mission of the Gospel every day of their lives as they take care of orphaned, abandoned children, youth and adults 365 days a year,” said Villegas Miranda.
Over the years, Villegas Miranda has demonstrated a willingness to serve others by leading the university for 12 years in its outreach to the community. The 2008 William C. Velasquez National Volunteer of the Year from the U.S. Hispanic Leadership Institute, coordinates international outreach with annual mission trips to Bolivia and fosters local community relationships with leading the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program on campus of which she received the 2007 Community Based Coordinator of the Year. She has worked with many outreach ministry programs, The Committee for Latin American and Latina/o Academic and Student Events, immigration, Latin American Student Organization, University Diversity Action Team, alumni events, volunteer projects and other community, conscious-raising, ministry events.
“Martha is a missionary 365 days of the year. She reaches out to all of God’s people,” added Natalie Bayci, university mission coordinator for the Diocese of Joliet.
Lewis University is a Catholic university offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to more than 6,500 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The ninth largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report.
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