When most people think of a missionary, they imagine a person who journeys out to the far corners of the world to preach the Gospel and serve the poor.
Father Salvador “Chava” Gonzalez, OMI, projects another image of a missionary – someone who helps others journey inward to a deeper relationship with God and the people in their lives.
As the new Director of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, Fr. Chava is able to be a missionary in many ways.
“To work at a Marian shrine is truly a blessing for me,” said Fr. Chava. “I feel like I am following in the footsteps of our founder, St. Eugene de Mazenod, because the very first place he sent his priests was to Marian shrines.”
Father Chava was born in Mexico in 1971 and raised in Oakland, California. As a Missionary Oblate seminarian he worked with young people and preached at youth missions in both the United States and Mexico. He also worked with incarcerated teenagers, helping them to see that they can have a better life. He continues to volunteer with prison ministry today.
After his priestly ordination in 2004 Fr. Chava ministered in parishes in Lowell, Massachusetts, and Houston, Texas. He then was assigned to the Oblates’ Immaculata Retreat House in Willimantic, Connecticut, where he was director for six years.
Father Chava then came to the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows as the Director of Hispanic and Youth Ministries. He was a member of the staff at King’s House Retreat Center where he would eventually serve as director for more than six years. For the past several years Fr. Chava has also served as the Oblate Communication Director, overseeing a variety of communication programs for the Oblates in the United States.
Throughout his Oblate journey, Fr. Chava said what has impressed him most about the Oblates is their commitment to always be close to people in need. As Shrine Director, he has numerous opportunities to do that every day.
“Being a missionary is something that we are all called to do,” said Fr. Chava. “I am blessed to be a missionary at the Shrine and to help others in their missionary journeys.”