BRAWLEY — Catechist Teresa Moya and her husband, Deacon Alberto Moya, are known quantities in the Imperial Valley.
The couple, who currently serve together in Brawley, can be seen assisting at the Masses celebrated every Sunday on Sacred Heart School’s soccer field. But their dedication to the Church goes back decades.
Serving in the Church has been like second nature to Teresa since her teens. Her commitment, in turn, inspired future husband Alberto to follow suit.
The couple grew up as neighbors in Mexicali, where they attended San Francisco y Santa Clara de Asís Parish.
Teresa said that, when she received her first Communion at age 6, she “just fell in love with Jesus in the Eucharist.”
“My love for the Eucharist is what has truly moved me to continue serving the Church in any way or capacity,” said Teresa, who at times would be responsible for getting her five siblings to church.
Teresa began teaching catechism at San Francisco y Santa Clara de Asís Parish at around age 14, recalled Deacon Moya, who was 15 at the time. He said that observing Teresa as a role model in the faith made him want to be one as well.
After getting married in 1988, the Moyas moved to the United States and settled in Imperial. They continued to serve at their longtime parish in Mexicali until the pastor nudged them to engage in ministry at their new parish, St. Anthony of Padua Parish in Imperial, instead.
“Catechism is my passion, I love sharing the faith,” said Teresa, a mother of three, who with the encouragement of St. Anthony of Padua Parish’s catechetical staff, became a certified catechist.
“From there, it just started snowballing,” she said.
Within three years, she became a master catechist through the Diocese of San Diego.
She has taught catechism to all age groups over the past 13 years, she said. She served as assistant to the catechetical coordinator at El Centro Catholic from 2011 to 2013, and in a similar capacity at St. Richard Catholic Church in Borrego Springs from 2009 to 2010. Since 2017, she has served as director of evangelization and catechetical ministry for the Catholic Community of Brawley & Westmorland (also known as Brawley Catholic).
Deacon Moya, who served as a deacon at St. Anthony of Padua Parish from 2017 to 2019 before being assigned to Brawley Catholic, said it was a long road to the diaconate – literally, having racked up some 45,000 miles by car while driving from the Valley to the diocesan Pastoral Center in San Diego for his four years of formation classes. But he considers all of that preparation, reflection and prayer time on the road a blessing.
He answered the call to the diaconate at a time when his family was struggling with both the death of his 3-year-old nephew, Alejandro Quezada, from complications of cancer and with the illness of his father-in-law, 75-year-old Adolfo Orozco, in 2012. Rather than questioning God for these family tragedies, Deacon Moya said he used the opportunity to better understand “the mystery of Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection.”
“It was just so much pain that I needed to get closer to someone, (and) I knew there was nobody in this world that could help me to heal. I knew that all my answers were there (in Christ),” said Deacon Moya, who began serving in hospice care for a while and came to recognize God’s love for the sick and dying.
Now that Teresa and Deacon Moya are ministering together in the same parish community, they said they believe they are right where God wants them to be. They even started a weekly webcast in Spanish called “Caminando con Jesús” (Walking with Jesus) that airs at 8 p.m., Fridays, on the deacon’s YouTube channel.
“I’m truly very blessed and very thankful to the Lord because I can say that I’m doing what I love to do,” Teresa said, “and that’s to share Jesus and His message of salvation and accompany others in the journey that we’re all in (in) going back to the Lord.”
“I just love it,” Deacon Alberto agreed.