Honoring the Mission: Celebrating Incarnate Word Week

April 12, 2024

UIW’s five core values of education, truth, faith, service and innovation have guided the University community in carrying out its Mission of offering educational excellence in the context of faith in Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God. Every year, UIW observes Incarnate Word Week for a special celebration of this Mission. Incarnate Word Day is celebrated on the Feast of the Anunciation, the feast day of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, UIW's founding congregation.

This year’s Incarnate Word Week celebrations included a variety of events and observations, such as a presentation from Dr. Kim Harris, Assistant Professor in the Department of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University, on “The Ritual Gifts and Cultural Advocacy of Servant of God Sr. Thea Bowmann” and a Taizé prayer service held at St. Joseph’s Chapel. UIW faculty, students and community members also gathered in Our Lady’s Chapel on Monday, April 8 to celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation, Mary's "Yes" to God's call at the annual Incarnate Word Day Mass. 

On the same day, Dr. Kim Harris gave a spirited and uplifting reflection, “Digo Sí, Señor: A Song of Sustainability as We Dance with the Sun and the Moon.” She wanted to acknowledge that just as Mary’s “yes” changed the world, people also have the power to change the world and God often calls us to do so. Harris led attendees in song as she recognized that by taking care of the earth, we preserve and welcome new life into the world.

“Everything is connected, and we must care for our common home,” stated Harris. “All of our creatures are connected, and each must be cherished with love and respect.”

Directly after Harris’ presentation, the awarding of the CCVI Spirit Award took place. The CCVI Spirit Award was inaugurated in 1993 to recognize a member of the faculty, administration or staff who has demonstrated, in service to the University and/or to the broader civic community, the spirit of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.

Terry PeakThis year’s honored award recipient was instructional designer at the Office of Teaching, Learning and Technology (OTLT), Terry Peak. Peak is a proud UIW alumnus who has worked at the University for 18 years.

“Terry lives a life of faith as attested in his commitment to prayer, participation in the liturgical life of the church and to service as elector minister of hospitality and the extraordinary industry of communion,” shared Kathleen Bottaro, assistant provost, OTLT. “He is committed to remaining current on new technologies for teaching, learning and finding practical ways to disseminate these technologies and techniques to UIW faculty in order to create efficiencies, enhance instruction and increase student engagement.”

Upon receiving his award, Peak reflected on his mother who took night classes at the University and his father who previously worked with the CCVI Sisters by helping to shuttle them to meet with clients.

“My family and I have had a really interesting and a long relationship with the University,” noted Peak. “I'm very proud to say that this is another family to me. My coworkers and my team have been my family. And I'm honored to serve all of you and to receive this award on behalf of all of you.”

Luis ValdesOutstanding student Luis Valdes was also recognized at the event as the recipient of the Student CCVI Spirit Award. Valdes is a senior Rehabilitation Science major from Eagle Pass with a Pre-PA concentration and two minors in Biology and Psychology. His dream is to become a successful surgeon who will advocate for the special needs community and help to make healthcare more accessible to Mexican and U.S. citizens.

“I want to become a physician that goes beyond for his patients,” expressed Valdes. “I want to understand their needs and not treat them as just a case to solve. These factors that my focus will be on can change the lives of patients.”

While presenting Valdes with his award, Director of Campus Ministry Elisabeth Villarreal shared, “It was a project led by Dr. Shandra Esparza and Dr. Ortiz that provided Luis and his class with an opportunity to collaborate with parents of children with disabilities. From this experience Luis felt called to engage fellow students in conversations regarding the topic of medical negligence and its near-death impact on children’s lives. This led to a new student organization: Future Health Care Heroes, an interprofessional organization where anyone who has an interest in health care can join to share and learn about interdisciplinary issues regarding health care.”

The student organizations will be hosting their first ever “Hero’s Health Fair” on Saturday, April 27 which will aim to blend the concept of superheroes with a fresh approach to collaboration between the University and professional organizations that work with the special needs community citywide.

Dr. Lucero Martinez Delgado, Valdes’ mentor and assistant professor at the Ila Faye Miller School of Nursing and Health Professions, said that “In Luis Valdes, we find a shining example of the transformative power of education in action. His tireless efforts to serve others, advocate for social justice, and promote human dignity align closely with the values of our University's Mission. Through his actions, Luis inspires us all to follow suit, reminding us that each of us has the power to make a positive difference in the lives of those around us.”

The 2024 Incarnate Word Week was undeniably a reflection of the level of commitment to service and faith that is embodied by the University’s community. Each member of the UIW family strives to live up to the example of Mary and the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word, by answering “yes” when called to serve others in fulfillment of the Mission.