Get to know the members of the Women's Commission in their own words.
Yamilka Genao is the Associate Director of the Hispanic Family Life Ministries of the Archdiocese of Newark. Originally from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Genao earned her degree in Civil engineering (B.S.E.) from National University Pedro Henriquez Ureña of Santo Domingo. She holds a master’s in engineering (M.E.) from New York City University (CUNY). She holds a Master in Pastoral Ministry (M.A.P.M) from Seton Hall University, South Orange, NJ.
Yamilka Genao is a Vice Chairman of the Archdiocese of Newark Women’s Commission and is a Professor of the School of Evangelization Juan Pablo II, of the Archdiocese of Brooklyn, New York. Along with her husband and three children she is an active member of Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in Ridgewood, NJ.
Yamilka Genao has a lot of experience working in the field of evangelization, helping others to find Christ in their everyday lives. Being an evangelist, a motivational speaker and working with faith formation of young people, adults, married couples, and families has been part of her ministry and her calling. As the Associate Director of the Hispanic Family Life Ministries of the Archdiocese of Newark her motto and her goal is “raising up a Christ-exalting, God-glorifying Hispanic Family generation which is in turn equipped and inspired to raise up many such generations to come.” Yamilka Genao has been conferences keynote speaker, led family healing retreats, and taught faith formation and evangelization courses in numerous venues throughout the United States and Latin America.
Cheryl Riley was appointed to the position of Director of the Respect Life Office of the Archdiocese of Newark in April 2018. In this capacity, Cheryl works to reach young people and adults with the truth about the tragedy of abortion and offers post abortion healing to women and men who have experienced abortion. Cheryl became acquainted with the Rachel’s Vineyard post abortion healing program in 1997 when she herself attended a Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat sponsored by the Archdiocese of Newark. This sparked her interest in the pro-life movement. She began to share her witness in parishes and schools throughout the Archdiocese of Newark and beyond about how having an abortion as a teenager affected her and how she eventually found hope and healing through the power of Jesus Christ and His Mercy. Cheryl directs Rachel’s Vineyard retreats two times per year in English and Spanish for the Archdiocese of Newark in addition to her other Respect Life Office responsibilities. Recently Cheryl has facilitated the introduction of Grief to Grace, a psychological and spiritual retreat created to heal the wounds of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. The five-day retreat program is now held annually in New Jersey within the Newark Archdiocese.
Cheryl is also very active in their home parish, Queen of Peace, in North Arlington. Cheryl is the Parish coordinator for the annual mission trip to Guatemala in which homes for families in poor rural areas are built. She also facilitates the Protecting God’s Children workshops. Cheryl and her husband Mike have been married for 28 years and have three children and two grandchildren.
Holly Wright, originally from Southern California, works part-time as a "Project Director" for LIFENET, a non-profit organization dedicated to attaining equal rights for Babies in the Womb through education, advocacy and networking, and promotes the chastity message as a solution to the abortion problem.
Holly has served as a missionary with Corazón Puro since 2012. Corazón Puro awakens leaders from underserved communities to transform a world thirsting for authentic love. She is also the Director and co-founder of Casa Guadalupe, a house of prayer, discernment and healing for women, all of whom serve as missionaries with Corazón Puro as part of their vocational discernment.
Holly is a graduate of Thomas Aquinas College where she majored in Liberal Arts with a focus on Philosophy and Theology. She received her Master's degree in Psychology from the Institute of Psychological Studies, a part of Divine Mercy University.
She has been happy and honored to serve with the Women’s Commission since 2004.
Joanne DePasquale-Parent was born and raised in the Archdiocese of Newark. Joanne is an alumna of Holy Family School (now Good Shephard Academy) in Nutley and of Immaculate Conception Seminary School of Theology at Seton Hall University where she earned a Master’s Degree in Pastoral Ministry. With over 25 years’ experience as a professional lay minister, Joanne has served as a Catholic Campus Minister, an Archdiocesan Director of Young Adult Ministry, a Parish Youth Minister and Coordinator of Confirmation Preparation, and currently as the Associate Director for Adult and Family Catechesis for the Catechetical Office of the Archdiocese of Newark. Joanne has been married for 19 years and is blessed with a wonderful husband and three beautiful sons. As an avid supporter of Catholic Education, her sons are enrolled in Catholic Schools with her eldest son attending St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark (Go Grey Bees!). Joanne and her family currently reside in the Diocese of Paterson and are active members of their parish. It brings Joanne great joy to be a part of the Women’s Commission and she thanks God for this opportunity to serve the women of this great archdiocese.
Marissa has lived in New Jersey all her life, attending grammar school in North Bergen and high school in West New York. Immediately after high school, she began her fashion career in retail stores, eventually moving up to merchandising associate for various fashion companies in New York City. She then decided she wanted a more creative career and became an interior designer for Ethan Allen in Secaucus, and, eventually, as a furniture sales person for Duralee. After working in the Fashion and Interior Design industry, respectively, for almost two decades, Marissa shifted careers. For the past ten years she has worked in the Pastoral Life Vicariate of the Archdiocese of Newark as the Administrative Assistant to the Vicar for Pastoral Life. She also assists in the initiatives of the Office for Evangelization, the Women’s Commission and the Men’s Commission. She was recently name a new member of the Women’s Commission of the Archdiocese of Newark. An active parishioner at Saint Peter the Apostle Church in River Edge, Marissa serves as a Eucharistic Minister, is Co-Leader of their New Evangelization Ministry, and recently completed three years on their Pastoral Council. She is currently enrolled in the B. A., Catholic Theology program, as a Senior, at the Immaculate Conception School of Theology at Seton Hall University (GO PIRATES!). Her expected graduation in May 2020.
Personal note: When I was hired by the Archdiocese back in 2008, I was beyond surprised. I remember telling a close friend that it would take someone with incredible insight to look past my fashion and interior design resume and believe that I could work for the Catholic Church. I had been out of a job for three months and getting desperate. Thankfully, the Archdiocese did just that. Coming to work here has opened up new avenues of spirituality, reflection and experiences. I am still counting my blessings.
Executive Assistant to the Sr. Vice President & National Director and Human Resources Coordinator for WSP USA, located in Newark, New Jersey. Mary has obtained her Principal Technical Associate Certification for Office Administration. She is former Chairperson of the Technical Associates-Office Administration Certification Committee, and Black Professional Network Communication Committee. She is a member of the Coordinating Committee of PAN 50 and Chairperson of the Administrative Standards and Resources Subcommittee. She has published two professional administrative papers, entitled, ‘This Is What We Do’, and ‘We Are All In This Together,’ through the IAAP and AEAP.
A member of Blessed Sacrament St. Charles Borromeo Roman Catholic Church (BSSCB) since she was 6 years old, Mary is a proclaimer of God’s Word, a Eucharistic Minister to the sick and shut-in; Chairperson of the Parish Special Events ministry; a member of the Pastor’s Advisory Board; Vice President of the Parish Council; a member of the Liturgy Committee; and Chairperson of the Spiritual Development Committee. She is also the Choreographer for the BSSCB Jubilee Liturgical Dancers. Mary also serves on the Advisory Board and Planning Board for the Office African American, African and Caribbean Apostolate, for the Archdioceses of Newark. She has served as former President of the Blessed Sacrament/St. Charles Borromeo Rosary Altar Society for three consecutive 2-year terms and has been the chairperson for several of their Annual Women’s retreats. Currently, she is Co-Chaplain of the Rosary Altar Society. Mary also completed a 3-year course in liturgical studies sponsored by the Worship Office of the Archdiocese of Newark and obtained certification through the Christian Foundation Ministry (CFM) program.
A native Newarker since the age of 5, Mary attended Weequahic High School, and completed several courses towards a business administration/management degree at Rutgers University. While attending Rutgers, she was part of a documentary concerning the 1960 Riots that was released and archived by the New Jersey Historical Society for publication. She also participated in a two-part interview with NJN Channel 12, Another View, entitled, “Tender Territory.”
An active member of the Pomona Avenue Block Association, Mary has been secretary for the last ten years. She was also a member of a spiritual acting group called "Artistry Concerning the Savior (ACTS) and was casted in a leading role in the play entitled, "The Battle Cry.”
Mary has made numerous presentations at various events including revivals and prayer breakfasts, i.e., Eighth Grade Graduation Ceremony, Blessed Sacrament School; Igbo Catholic Community Women’s Retreat; Christ the King’s Anniversary Celebration; BSSCB Rosarian’s Annual Women’s Retreat; Nubian Center for Research and Development, Office of Black Catholic Ministry, and the 159th and 162nd Women’s Cursillo Movement. Some of her works include: If you know God - Why don’t you Act Like It; Crucify Him; Playing Two-faced with God; Blessed Women; I’m Still Standing; It’s a Matter of Choice, Victim to Victory; CPU; This is What Christians Do and How You Livin’.
Mary is a recipient of the Archdiocesan Sesquicentennial Cathedral Golden Jubilee Medal, and a Recognition Award for Chairperson for the 100th Year Celebration of Blessed Sacrament Church. She also received a citation plaque for Community Service in 2012 the Delta Sigma Phi Sorority and received the Parsons Brinckerhoff Americas’ Award for Administration, April 26, 2014, in Bethesda, Maryland.
After all is said and done: “It is all for the Glory of God - I am glad to be in His service!”
2019 Women’s Day of Reflection, 23rd Psalm – Expressed by Mary F. Brown
1 The Lord God the Father, My Creator; God the Son, My Savior; God the Holy Spirit, My Comforter, is my Shepherd [to feed, guide, and shield me] that’s relationship. I shall not lack. I am confident that I shall not want or need for He shall supply all my needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
2 He makes me lie down in [fresh, tender] green pastures; He knows when my mind, body and soul need rest. He leads me beside the still and restful waters. He knows when I need relaxation, peace and harmony.
3 He refreshes and restores my soul; He heals me, strengthens me, He forgives me and makes me whole. He leads me in the paths of righteousness [uprightness and right standing with Him. All His commandments are righteousness. He guides my will to line up with His, full of integrity — not because of anything that I have done or earned, but for the sake of His name and glory.
4 Yea, though I walk through the [deep, sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I will not stay in the shadow because I am going through it, the storm will be over and this too shall pass. Death where is your sting? Oh Grave, where is your victory? I will fear or dread no evil, for You are with me – the Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? …for the LORD my God goes with me; he will never leave me nor forsake me. Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide, discipline and correct my path], knowing this, comforts me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. No weapon formed against me shall prosper. I will feast in the presence of my enemies. He will make my enemies my foot stole. You anoint my head with oil (blessings and favor are upon me); my [brimming] cup runs over. My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savor. I am certain to see the abundance of the Lord in the land of the living.
6 Surely, Surely goodness/kindness, mercy/forgiveness, and unfailing grace and love shall follow me all the days of my life, and when my earthly journey is over, I will be called to my heavenly mansion prepared especially for me by God the Father, my creator; God the Son, my Savior; and, God the Holy Spirit, my comforter. I will be in His presence and see Him face to face, joining the angels, saints and my ancestors who have gone before me, singing and praising His name for the rest of eternity. That’s forever! Amen.
Born in Boston, Massachusetts and relocating to Montclair, New Jersey at a young age, Susan attended catholic schools in Montclair. Although she experienced an early relocation to New Jersey, Susan and her family continue to have strong ties to the Boston area as she and her family continue to spend summers on Cape Cod with all of her extended family. Following high school, Susan, like her older siblings, knew she would continue her studies somewhere in the New England area. She attended Boston College in Chestnut Hill, MA. following other family members with the desire to continue their family legacy at Boston College. Receiving a B.S in education has allowed Susan to serve youth in an urban educational setting. Her desire to work with youth, specifically with African American youth, landed Susan a teaching position in one of Roxbury’s first Magnet Schools. This opportunity to inspire and nurture young children to achieve academic success has always been the core of her educational philosophy. Following her tenure in Boston Public Schools, Susan moved to St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands to teach at Sts Peter and Paul School. Susan insists that her experience in St. Thomas was the best teaching experience she could have gained. Having few resources allowed for full creativity in her delivery of instruction. Her tenure in USVI helped to foster many lasting relationships with her colleagues at the school as well as students who have embarked on successful careers.
Susan returned back to the states where she continued graduate studies at University of Massachusetts where she received an Ed.M in Organizational Policy, Planning, and Supervision. Continuing her graduate studies in pursuit of her doctorate, Susan returned to New Jersey and attended Seton Hall University where she received her Ed.D in Educational Administration. Her love of education, specifically urban education, has covered a span of 30 years. Currently, Susan is an Executive Instructional Coach for Montclair Public Schools with the primary responsibility of encouraging reflective practices and instructional processes for educators using evidence-based practices. Throughout her career in education, Susan has worked in several capacities as Program Coordinator for Newark Pre-School Head Start, Executive Director of Bergen County Head Start, Education Director for CASES (Center for Alternative Sentencing & Educational Services) in New York City, and as a literacy instructor for East Orange School District. Her love of education has often placed Susan in “non-traditional” educational settings which provided several avenues for students of color to achieve academic success.
Susan currently resides in Glen Ridge with Paul, her husband of 24 years. They are parishioners of St. Peter Claver Church which has been the spiritual haven for Black Catholics in the Montclair area. She has been active in St. Peter Claver since her attendance of 26 years. She has served as a member of Pastoral Council; Secretary of Pastoral Council; Co-chair of Black Catholic Concerns; CCD instructor; Pastoral Associate; and Pastoral Conference Liaison. Under the guidance of its current Pastor, she assisted in the implementation and was Co-Chair of St. Peter Claver’s first Women’s Fellowship Ministry which comprised of African American, Caucasian, Haitian, and Latina Women. Susan is an active member of St. Peter Claver’s Black Catholic Concerns Ministry, the choir, and also as a Eucharistic Minister. Susan also volunteers as a catechist at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in West Orange. She is also the founding member of Archdiocese of Newark’s Friends of Delille Chapter/New Jersey which has allowed chapter members to mirror the Corporal Works of Mercy performed by Venerable Henriette Delille, foundress of The Sisters of The Holy Family, a religious order of sisters in New Orleans, La. In addition to these works, Susan has also been spreading the message about Venerable Delille throughout New Jersey and abroad. She has recently developed a new initiative entitled “Friend of a Friend” Mentoring Project through the Friends of Delille Chapter which has been implemented at Sacred Heart School located in Jersey City throughout the 2018-19 school year under the supervision of Sr. Frances Salemi, Principal. All of the Chapter Friends and the students of Sacred Heart School are excited about this initiative.
Susan also serves on the Advisory Board for Archdiocese of Newark’s African American, African, and Caribbean Apostolate and Archdiocese of Newark Women’s Commission. She is also a member of The Council for Women of Boston College, The National Council of Catholic Women, Boston College Alumni Chapter (Northern Jersey), Pi Lambda Theta Member (National Honor Society for Educators), Essex County Educator’s Association, and Women’s Club of Glen Ridge.
When Susan is not volunteering, she enjoys swimming, snorkeling, planning family events, travelling, discovering culinary eateries, and spending time with her family & friends.
“If we close ourselves off to service, we will never create the space within ourselves to be filled with the love of God. He can transform the most difficult tasks into meaningful experiences, but we have to be aware of His presence.” Anonymous
Tracy White Ricciardi grew up in Short Hills, NJ. After graduating Millburn High School she attended Northwestern University on a partial field hockey scholarship and graduated with a degree in Radio, Television and Film. After a two-year stint as a Chapter Consultant for a national sorority (Chi Omega) Tracy joined the staff of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society at its New York headquarters, serving in a variety of roles in the fundraising/marketing area. She left the Society after giving birth to her son Kevin and moved with her husband Ken from Manhattan to Springfield – just a stone’s throw from where she grew up. Two and half years later her daughter Jane arrived and when the children were school-age, she and Ken sent them their parish school, St. Rose of Lima. During their grammar school years Tracy served in leadership roles in the Junior League of the Oranges and Short Hills, chaired the school’s major fundraiser, and served as the Home and School Association President. She also was involved in parish life as an Extraordinary Minister, leader of the Women of Bethany (a weekly prayer group/bible study) and as a board member of the Ladies Auxiliary as its Spirituality Chair. When Kevin in his last year at St. Rose she was asked to lead the parish Confirmation program, which she has done for the past 11 years. After daughter Jane went off to college she joined the staff full-time as Director of Adolescent Faith Formation, responsible for 6-8 religious education, Confirmation, and youth ministry. She was invited to serve on the Women’s Commission last year.