El Buen Samaritano and San Francisco de Asís Episcopal Church have shared a common physical space since the recently deceased Rt. Rev. Maurice M. “Ben” Benitez, 6th Bishop of Texas, founded and joined the two ministries in the late 1980s. And like siblings sharing a room, they’ve grown apart and closer together many times throughout their nearly 27 years of history.
With a vision to have the two ministries work toward one common goal—addressing the needs of the whole person—the clergy of San Francisco de Asís have recently been appointed as chaplains to El Buen Samaritano. As chaplains, both the Rev. Bertie Pearson, vicar, and the Rev. Cynthia Ruiz, deacon, will offer pastoral counseling to staff, volunteers and clients, and provide a ministry of presence in El Buen Samaritano’s clinic, food pantry and education programs.
“I see San Francisco de Asís becoming a spiritual center to which people come for spiritual growth,” Pearson said as he shared his open-door policy view. “I’d like for people—even non-Christians—to see it as a place they can come for spiritual development.”
When El Buen Samaritano’s Board of Directors conducted a strategic visioning process in 2012, they hoped not only to expand the program offerings of El Buen Samaritano across the Diocese, but also to build more of a community at El Buen Samaritano. Together with San Francisco de Asís, El Buen Samaritano can build a stronger community for the families accessing programs and services and attending services.
Well aligned with El Buen Samaritano’s approach since its foundation, Pearson said, “We’re here to be of service. If people need to talk, we’re here to listen. You don’t have to be an Episcopalian; you don’t even have to be a Christian. Of course, when people are interested in the Episcopal tradition, we’re always excited to welcome them to worship with us.”
Pearson and Ruiz will work closely with the social workers in the clinic. And as they see someone is having a rough day, they will be readily available to offer help.
About the Rev. Bertie Pearson:
Ordained in 2008, Pearson served in the San Francisco Bay Area, initially on the staff of Bishop Andrus, and later as Priest in Charge of two congregations: Holy Innocents’ and St. John The Evangelist. When his wife was accepted into the clinical psychology doctoral program at the University of Texas at Austin, he interviewed at San Francisco de Asís and fell in love with the church.
“For me, Christianity is incredibly simple,” Pearson said. “All of Christianity is really one sentence: love God with your heart, mind, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. And that’s really it. The rest is commentary on how to get to there.”
Pearson sees San Francisco de Asís and El Buen Samaritano as a perfect synthesis of Christ’s two great commandments. “I feel like San Francisco is this wonderful spiritual center, in which people develop a love of God and grow in their life in Christ, and El Buen is an expression of the selfless love of neighbor. It’s a place where people work really hard to do wonderful things for Austin and for the surrounding communities, often serving some of the most vulnerable people in Austin.”
Pearson is also an instructor at the Iona School for Ministry and an adjunct professor at the Seminary of the Southwest, where he teaches church history.
About the Rev. Cynthia Ruiz:
Ruiz was ordained as a transitional deacon in 2012. Originally from Niagara Falls, New York, she has lived and worked in Puebla Mexico, where she studied intercultural communications and cultural adaptation, and taught ESL at the Universidad de las Américas – Puebla. Upon finishing her master’s in Applied Linguistics, she taught at the Colegio Americano de Puebla. She and her family have lived in Fort Worth, Texas since 2001.
Ruiz’ seminary studies brought her to the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, where she graduated in 2011. Upon being ordained, Ruiz served as a deacon at St. Elisabeth’s Episcopal Church in Fort Worth.
She is a citizen of Mexico as well as the United States, as are her husband and children, and views her calling to Hispanic ministries as a way to share the richness of her own bicultural household. She believes being involved in Hispanic ministries helps her celebrate the creativity that God presents among its people and the possibilities that come from worshiping with and among that creativity.
“Generally speaking, the assumption with church is that you go either on Saturday or Sunday and then on Monday, you begin your real life,” Ruiz said. “In reality, our lives take place all throughout the week, and our Church is called to be involved in the needs of the community, helping people find the wholeness of presence even in the most difficult of circumstances.”
Ruiz began at San Francisco de Asís as a deacon on March 3, 2014. She sees the potentially symbiotic relationship between San Francisco de Asís and El Buen Samaritano as a way of recognizing that Christ is present in every moment of our lives. “We’re called to nurture that presence in every moment of our lives—in our neighbor when they’re going through difficult circumstances or when we are going through difficult circumstances and ask for help from our neighbor.”
On Thursday, March 20, the Austin community cranked up the giving for 24 hours, raising over $5.7 million for nearly 500 local nonprofits. We are so happy to announce that we surpassed our goal of $20,000 raising nearly $25,000! With matching funds from St. David’s Foundation, we raised over $37,000! And, we couldn’t have done it without you. To all of those who donated to El Buen Samaritano, thank you for helping us strengthen families in Central Texas.
A special thanks to Casa Garcia’s, who donated 10 percent of proceeds from El Buen’s Amplify Austin Happy Hour to benefit the organization, St. David’s Foundation for matching 50 cents to every dollar donated and to our hard-working staff, dedicated volunteers and amazing Board of Directors for working around the clock for 24 hours to ensure our goal was met.
If you wanted to donate but didn’t get a chance to do it during Amplify Austin, don’t worry. You can donate by clicking the button below.
Elma and James Aldrete
Michelle Segall Bassett
Victoria E. Beynon
The Rev. Bill and Molly Bennett
Melinda Gonzales Boe
Shelly Botkin and Ryan Marquess
Mary Alice Carnes
Sally Jo Crowson
Mary Jo Culver
Will and Ali Dailey
Raul, Jennifer and Seth Dávila
Michael De Leon
Alexis De Sela
Dulia de Wette, M.D.
Divya and Raj Diwan
Lynne Dobson, Greg Wooldridge
Laura Duran Villa
El Buen Samaritano’s ESL Class – Level 3A, Students
Dan and Linda Hardy
The Rt. Rev. Dena Harrison
Diane and Logan Jenkins
Cathy and Chuck Kline
Lesly & the Lonely Chavos
The McCombs Family
Junie and John Meskey
The Rev. Alex Monte-Vela
Judith and Tom Morris
James E. Payne
The Rev. Bertie Pearson
Sandbach Family Trust
Mark Angel Smith
Rudy Soto, Jr.
George and Denise Stephens
Amplify Austin is just two weeks away and it’s almost time to crank up the giving to be part of raising $4 million for nonprofits in Central Texas. Help us reach our goal of $20,000 in 24 hours to help benefit our health, education and financial security services.
Simply, visit our profile at I Live Here, I Give Here and schedule your donation for the day of Amplify Austin. And guess what? With the help of your generous gift, we may be eligible for some amazing incentives! Your gift made through Amplify Austin will be amplified by incentive matching dollars from sponsors. Your gift may also help us win one of the four grand prizes or hourly Bass Booster prizes during the 24-hour period listed below!
“Guitar Soloist” Grand Prizes:
“Brass Boosters” Hourly Prizes:
And just in case that wasn’t exciting enough…
St. David’s Foundation has announced that once again they will help Amplify Austin by maximizing the impact of their nonprofit partners’ donor gifts. As a partner, for every dollar donated, St. David’s will match 50 cents. Additionally, during our Amplify Austin Happy Hour on March 20 at Casa Garcia’s, the restaurant has promised to donate 10 percent of all proceeds made during our event. So, if you haven’t put it on your calendar yet, you can do so now.