Maria Cecilia Espinoza

Year in service: 1985-2019
Country: USA
City: Ossining, NY
Focus: Education, Pastoral Care
Projects(s): Always a Missioner (AAM) Manager, Friends Across Borders (FAB) Manager
People Served: AAM: 500 returned missioners, FAB: 150 – 200 people per year, 60 young people, 5 – 10 families, and 100 adults of all ages

Project Goal(s): AAM: Continue relationships with missioners who previously served with Maryknoll Lay Missioners. FAB: Bring awareness about laity in mission, build bridges between USA Catholics and cultures and people Maryknoll Lay Missioners serve, make connections between peoples, churches and communities.

Current Ministry:

From 2004 to 2019, Cecilia managed the Friends Across Borders program, promoting mission awareness experiences, and also was the returned missioner liaison, managing the Always a Missioner program.

Returned missioners are a great resource to promote Maryknoll Lay Missioners and recruit potential missioners. They are a valuable growing network and their support is essential to accomplish and expand Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ impact. AAM encourages the telling of stories of laity in mission. Through sharing these lives of service and stories, those interested in mission may feel moved to serve and help create a more compassionate world.

FAB promotes global spirituality, the life and works of Maryknoll Lay Missioners around the world and mission education. It commits to building bridges among USA Catholics and the cultures and peoples missioners serve. FAB exists in partnership with Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ regions, returned missioners, other Maryknoll entities and USA Church organizations. Cecilia coordinated her work with others via conferences, university and parish exhibits, e-mails, face-to-face meetings, media communication, letters and phone calls.

Personal Data:

Cecilia was born in Santiago, Chile. She has a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy from the University of Chile in Santiago and a Master of Science in Family Counseling from Iona College in New Rochelle, NY. Cecilia was the Santiago Geriatric Hospital Occupational Therapy Department Director. She traveled on mission trips to isolated and rural Chile sectors. Cecilia served with the Assumptionists and Passionists. She met her husband, Sam Stanton, while he was a Holy Cross Lay Missioner in Chile. They married, came to the USA and lived and worked in Phoenix, AZ. Cecilia was the Spanish choir director at St. Augustine’s Parish and the Campus Minister at South Mountain College.

In 1985, Cecilia, Sam and their three children, Cecilia, Maria Violeta and Victor, joined Maryknoll Lay Missioners and served in the small rural village of Nirivilo, Chile. They moved to Linares, the provincial capital. Based on the vast rural population’s needs, Cecilia organized a diocesan liturgy training center and formed the diocesan choir. She was involved in human rights work, especially in preparation for the national plebiscite. Cecilia and her family then moved to Ossining, NY, where she worked in Maryknoll promotions and outreach.

The family returned to Linares, Chile, in 1996, and Cecilia was the Youth Mental Health Center Director. The center worked mainly with the children of detained, disappeared and political prisoners of the dictatorship. Under Cecilia’s administration, it broadened its scope and became part of the hospital. The family returned to the US in 2004 and Cecilia assumed responsibility for Maryknoll Lay Missioners’ FAB program that coordinates mission awareness experiences.