Worship Leaders and Witnesses

Learn more about those who share how the ministry of the deacon reflects their call to serve, to preach, and to share Christ’s love.

Kayla August

Kayla August is from New Orleans, Louisiana, a Catholic city filled with priests, po-boys, and parades! A love of God brought this southern girl to the Midwest where she spent her first three years in South Bend as the Assistant Director of Evangelization in Notre Dame’s Campus Ministry department. Kayla currently serves the Notre Dame community as rector of Lyons Hall.

Kayla received her B.A. and a subsequent Masters in Pastoral Counseling from Loyola University of New Orleans. Serving others is a core part of her life, and she spent a large part of the past 12 years of her life volunteering her summers at Camp Challenge, a camp for children with cancer and sickle cell, and Camp Pelican, a camp for children with asthma and cystic fibrosis as the director of activities. Her love of service continues as a mentor to youth at Transformation Ministries in South Bend, Indiana.

Kayla plans to pursue a doctorate in preaching as a way to serve God by giving her voice to the church.

Rose Lue

Rose Lue is an Advanced Lay Leader in the Diocese of San Jose in Northern California where she was in formation alongside those preparing for ordination in the permanent diaconate. She also holds a Master of Arts degree in Pastoral Ministries from Santa Clara University. A trained Spiritual Director who is active in parish ministries, Rose accompanies fellow pilgrims and works in collaboration with others to promote the reign of love, peace and justice. In particular, she is a member of her diocesan committee for Catholic Campaign for Human Development and is part of the Strategy Team for the Silicon Valley Sponsoring Committee, the organizing body to create a broad-based organization in her area to strengthen communities and promote human dignity.

Maria McGuire

Maria McGuire holds a Bachelor of Science from California Polytechnic State University and a Masters Degree in Religious Education from Loyola University, New Orleans.

A trained Spiritual Director and professional Chaplain, she practices reverence for the individual journey and giftedness of all people. It is her belief that theology ought to include a “so what” factor, with an eye towards servicing the well-being, growth and understanding of humanity.

Maria enjoys leading retreats and workshops, offering Spiritual Direction, and spiritual readings. She has a keen interest and love for writing. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends in the garden, at sports events, on hiking trails, in the gym and at home.

Dr. Lydia Tinajero Deck

Lydia Tinajero Deck is a Mexican-American Catholic. She is a pediatrician, practicing medicine in a bustling community clinic in Alameda County, California. Lydia is an active parishioner at St. Theresa Catholic Church in Oakland, where she is a lector and has served as a catechist.

When she learned that Pope Francis was forming a commission on women deacons, she prayed about this path with an open heart to God’s call. She subsequently engaged in St. Ignatius’ 19th-annotation retreat, and continues to find consolation in bridging the life of the church with the pressing needs of the community in which it is called to serve. She is married with four adult children, who continue to teach her what it means to “be church.” 

Worship Leaders

Leah Casimero

Leah Casimero is a Wapichan Indigenous woman from the interior of Guyana who is passionate about promoting the culture, knowledge, wisdom and language of her people.

She is part of a team spearheading the pilot project of the Quality Bilingual Education Programme for Wapichan Children in South Rupununi, Guyana, where she coordinates the development of materials and other resources for the pilot schools, and helps to monitor the overall progress of the project.Leah represented Guyana and was the youngest participant at the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon, held in Rome in October 2019. She shared her personal experiences as a Wapichan woman and the experiences of the bilingual education program, which incorporates the language, culture and traditional knowledge of the Wapichan people into three government schools.    

Sr. Donna Ciangio

Sister Donna L. Ciangio is a Dominican Sister of Caldwell, New Jersey. She holds a doctorate from Drew University, Madison, New Jersey. Sister Donna served as the Director of Adult Faith
Formation at St. Rose of Lima Church in Short Hills, New Jersey. Sister is an adjunct faculty member in Drew University’s Doctor of Ministry program. She works extensively in the areas of congregational spirituality and development, a major part
being SCCs. Sr. Donna currently serves as the Chairperson of the North American Forum for Small Christian Communities and Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Newark. Her current book is Waiting With Joy and Advent Faith reflection book published by RENEW International.

Claire Hitchins

Claire Hitchins is called to tend sacred spaces where connection, healing, imagination and justice-making become possible. Claire is blessed to design and direct Re/Generation, a mentoring and leadership program connecting young Catholic change-makers with each other and with elders to support them in their work for justice in the Church. 

Claire weaves music into her healing work for justice wherever possible, leading group singing at church services, retreats, protests and rallies. In 2015 she recorded a collection of songs for Advent called People, Look East and in 2016 she released her debut full length album, These Bodies

She has just entered the Master of Divinity program at Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, Tennessee. There she hopes to deepen her inner and outer work of dismantling white supremacy and other oppressive systems and theologies, widen her imagination around how church can best serve the healing, repair and liberation for which all of creation groans, and more fully incarnate a new form of ministry rooted in our baptismal priesthood, prophesy, and kin-ship. 

Ellie Hidalgo

Ellie Hidalgo has served at Dolores Mission Catholic Church in Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles for 12 years. In her role as pastoral associate, she is part of the leadership team planning parish liturgies, engaging in restorative justice ministry and participating in the parish’s many works of charity and community organizing. Ellie graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia) and a Master of Arts in Pastoral Theology from Loyola Marymount University (Los Angeles). She was commissioned as a pastoral associate for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 2013. (www.dolores-mission.org

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