Associate Pastor, Metro Hope Covenant Church, New York, NY
Mayra is dedicated to building bridges—both in the classroom and in the church. As a professor at Nyack College she has taught courses in social justice, critical multiculturalism, community practice, and social welfare policy. “My teaching is infused with the DNA of the gospel to reconcile through consciousness-building, and forfeiting one’s privileges and status in order to participate in creating the beloved community.”
She also seeks to help build that community through Metro, a multiethnic congregation. “I believe a significant part of our call as a church is to be curators,” she says. “When folks walk in the front door, they bring a mosaic of gifts and aspirations. We try to ask ourselves, ‘What is God doing in people and how can we participate in that?’”
Mayra asked a different kind of question when she woke up with a sore throat nearly three years ago and was soon diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma—one of the most aggressive forms of cancer. “I had to ask myself, ‘How was I going live life joyfully and courageously without perceived certainty?’” she says. “I decided to choose to trust that God’s presence is enough.”
“Trust is probably the opposite of despair when we’re faced with overwhelming suffering,” Mayra says. “I wish I could say it’s easy, but accepting uncertainty often feels unacceptable. Yet we all encounter unwanted, uninvited openings to engage in a deeper trust.”
Mayra went through eight months of chemotherapy and is now in remission.
Books on night stand/e-reader: The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything, James Martin, SJ; The Emperor of All Maladies, Siddhartha Mukherjee
Favorite way to waste time: Reading local blogs about Harlem culture and happenings
Favorite TV show: The Voice
Choose a superpower—fly or be invisible: Invisible. I’m a shameless people watcher, so being able to sit quietly and on a park bench in Central Park and people-watch without folks wondering if I’m a little off would be a treat!