Sister Juana Gutierrez Mares joined the teaching staff at St. John the Baptist Catholic School in 2017 to teach third grade. She graduated from George Fox University where she earned her teaching certificate with endorsements in elementary education and Spanish. Sister Juana is happy to share her journey in life, especially toward joining a religious order and becoming a teacher.
She was born in Ocotlán Jalisco, Mexico as the 4th of ten children, 3 boys and 7 girls. When she was 4 years old, her father immigrated to the USA and started working in the fields here in Oregon. He continues to work there. Over time, her mom and most of the children immigrated to the USA, too. She was baptized Catholic and made her 1st Holy Communion when she was 10 years old.
She migrated to the USA in 1992 to join her family so they could reach their dream together of having a better life. While working at Migrant Head Start as an Instructional Assistant and going to church, she made lots of friends. One of those friends was Dominga Gonzalez, now a Carmelite Nun, who connected her with the Sisters of St. Mary of Oregon. Four years later, in 1997, she joined the community and became Sr. Juana Gutierrez Mares. In 2001, she started working at St. Anthony’s Catholic Church in Forest Grove as a parish minister. She worked there until 2009. While working there, she studied thelology at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkley, CA. In 2010, she started working at Valley Catholic Early Learning School teaching Spanish. It was then, when she fell in love with the little ones, as she had done when she worked at the Migrant Head Start, that she decided to go back to college to become a teacher and to eventually find her way to St. John the Baptist.