Blossoming In New Opportunities

The Rev. Irma (Mimi) Guerra

Priest, Missioner for Hispanic Ministries | Bishop’s Staff

A big new thing happened in 2022 for The Rev. Irma “Mimi” Guerra when she became Missioner for Hispanic Ministries for The Diocese of Atlanta. There is a growing need, with the Hispanic population in metro Atlanta growing more than 30 percent since 2010.

Her new opportunity was set in motion many years earlier, when Guerra was serving in the flower guild and many other volunteer roles at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Austell.

“I’m wondering why you’re not ordained?” asked longtime church member Maria Smith. “How can I be?” Guerra replied. “You know, I’m a lady.” She had only allowed herself to dream of becoming a nun.

The two shared coffee later at Smith’s home, where she pointed to a bookmarked copy of the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. Guerra opened it right to “everything about ladies’ ordination, and I was so excited. And she said, ‘You’re already doing everything as the priests do.’”

Guerra calls Smith “an angel sent to me.” Now Guerra, formerly an educator and Spanish teacher, is like that for others. She became one of the first female Hispanic priests in the diocese in 2018.

“I never lost my dream and now I’m an Episcopal priest, thanks be to God,” she said. “Really, I’m a person who loves to include everyone… It doesn’t matter if you’re speaking English, French, Spanish, if it is the language of love, everybody will come to you.”

Working out of Christ Church in Norcross, Guerra aided the Hispanic community during the pandemic by dispelling myths and offering help. When she heard that people weren’t getting vaccinated or going to food banks because they feared deportation, she shared information and arranged transportation.

She started Godly Play and Stephens Ministry in Spanish, and reached out to non-Hispanic neighbors. She helped them understand quinceaneras, Day of the Dead, and how to make tamales.

“Together, we all want family,” Guerra said. “I love to provide the good news, especially to LGBTQ families, and tell them, ‘All of you are loved. Don’t ever doubt that God is for all. Come together and taste and see.’ I want to find more ways to bring this not only to our Hispanic family but all around the world.”