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September 2015

Women Lay Ministers Supported Via Francis L. Markey Fellowship at Santa Clara University

The first recipients of a generous grant to finance and support the education of women lay ministers were celebrated at an event at Santa Clara University Sept. 29.

 SANTA CLARA, Calif., Sept. 30, 2015 -- The first recipients of a generous grant to finance and support the education of women lay ministers have been selected. The grant will enable them to attend Santa Clara University''s Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries (GPPM). 

Maria Pilar Mateos (far left, front row)  and April Riforgiate (far right, front row) are the first recipients of the. Francis L. Markey Fellowship, in support of women pastoral leaders from the Monterey and San Jose Dioceses who have devoted themselves to Catholic ministry and are enrolled in the  GPPM at Santa Clara University. The gift consists of $150,000, which was matched dollar for dollar by the GPPM, to fund need-based scholarships for the next several years.

Mateos, who is in her first year as a GPPM student, currently works in the stewardship and development office at the Diocese of San Jose. Riforgiate is the musical coordinator for St. Joseph’s Catholic Church  in Nipomo in the Monterey diocese. She will start the GPPM in the Fall of 2015.

“These two devoted students are the first of many outstanding women pastoral leaders who will benefit from the generous Markey Fellowship funds,” said Gary Macy, chair of the GPPM at SCU. “With demographic and clergy trends in the Church today, a vast majority of the work in liturgy, faith formation and catechesis is being done by women. Yet traditional avenues for advanced theology are often not designed to support women.”

The fellowship was named in honor of the late Fr. Francis Markey of Aptos and Capitola, viewed by many as a prophetic leader and advocate for including women in the Church hierarchy well before the larger Church began welcoming women as pastoral leaders.

 “Father Markey devoted his life to challenging others to respect the gifts of all who seek to serve the Church,” said Margaret Webb, trustee of the Francis L Markey Trust. “He would have been proud to see his legacy live on in the work of these devoted Fellows.”

The fellowship funds help cover tuition and other expenses that might be necessary for women to attain advanced degrees in Pastoral Ministries including travel or child care. Recipients must show that they are performing a leadership role in their parish, including a letter from their bishop attesting to their contribution to the diocese.

In addition to the Markey Fellowships, the Trust has contributed $150,000 to catalogue and archive the homilies and personal papers of Fr. Markey. More information on the collection can be found at

About the Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries at Santa Clara University
Since 1983 the Graduate Program in Pastoral Ministries at Santa Clara University has been preparing women and men to enter professional ministries in Church and society. The program offers a Master of Arts degree in both face-to-face and online blended formats. Students and graduates of the GPPM serve in parishes, education, diocesan offices, and non-profits in a variety of roles. The student body is richly comprised of Roman Catholics and Protestants, international students, laity, as well as priests and religious. GPPM’s goal is to prepare women and men to be compassionate and competent professionals working to transform lives, schools, and communities. For more information see

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University, a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley, offers its more than 9,000 students rigorous undergraduate curricula in arts and sciences, business, and engineering; master’s degrees in business, education, counseling psychology, pastoral ministry, and theology; and law degrees and engineering Ph.D.s. Distinguished nationally by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, California’s oldest operating higher-education institution demonstrates faith-inspired values of ethics and social justice. For more information, see

Media Contact
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | | 408-554-5121

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