National speaker, author and teacher Ann Garrido to headline Leadership Day April 16

Ann Garrido spent her childhood summers wrangling her seven younger siblings, earnestly trying to convince them to attend her makeshift summertime classrooms and retreat experiences she designed at her family’s home in St. Louis. She knew from a very early age that all she ever wanted to do was teach.

Born with that passion, Ann now serves as associate professor of homiletics at Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, Missouri. She commits half of her time to traveling nationally and internationally doing conflict education and mediation work with Triad Consulting Group. She is an author, wife and mother.

Ann Garrido addresses a crowd. (Photo submitted)

Ann grew up in a large Catholic family that was parked in the front pew at Mass every Sunday. “We always had enough people to run our own baseball team or classroom,” she said. “Even when I was really, really young, I never wanted to be anything other than a teacher. That was always my dream in life.”

After earning a degree in history and obtaining a teaching certificate for secondary education, she applied to the Peace Corps. However, before that came to fruition, she was encouraged by one of the School Sisters of Notre Dame from her high school alma mater to consider a teaching position at a Catholic school on the Pacific island of Guam. 

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“I have always appreciated the School Sisters’ idea of education — their vision of empowerment, helping people find their voice in the world, creating a more just world. So, I reached out to them, thinking there would be a lot of others on the list ahead of me, but there weren’t,” she recalled. 

She packed her bags and spent the next four years teaching middle school and high school in Guam. There, she met her husband, who was serving as a lay minister in a local parish. At one point, they both became aware of their need and desire to pursue graduate theological studies. 

“We both began to recognize that people were coming to us with issues that were bigger than what we were equipped to deal with. I knew a lot of stuff but I didn’t know how to deal with the pastoral issues that were going to be part of teaching. My husband was experiencing a similar situation in the parish. We were both young, in our mid-20s, and we decided to pursue graduate studies, not just to know the faith, but to know better how to really care for the Church,” Ann said. 

Ann received a Master of Divinity and Doctorate of Ministry in Preaching at Aquinas Institute of Theology and joined the institute’s faculty in 2000. She has visited all 50 states and 20 countries, having spoken in over 175 diocesan, university, health care, educational and business settings.

On April 16, Ann will present to the people of the Diocese of St. Cloud on “Collaborative Leadership” at Holy Family Parish in Belle Prairie. All are welcome to attend, especially in light of the formation of Area Catholic Communities. The event is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

“I so admire dioceses who can host days like this. Anything they can do to help bump up the professional development of people who are in ministry is one of the most valuable things we can do for our ministers,” she said. 

Throughout her travels, Ann said she has seen a snapshot of dioceses who are creating new models for ministry, some similar to Area Catholic Communities.

“It’s an exciting move, but it’s going to be hard,” she said. “These are really different models of parish life than what we grew up with. The golden thread through all of my ministries has been related to good communication. How do we talk with each other well? How do we witness to holy communication in everyday life, particularly in situations where it’s tough to do? How do we as parish and school staff continue to do a great job communicating with each other?

“Ministry in the present Church so much depends on collaboration between priests, deacons and lay ministers. How do we form teams who have good, open, transparent communication with each other? 
Any time people are passionate about anything, and hopefully people are passionate about their ministry, there is going to be tension. What are ways we can talk through that to be better teams and of better service in our ministries?” 


Presenter: Ann Garrido
Topic: “Collaborative Leadership”
Time/Date: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., April 16
Where: Holy Family Parish, Belle Prairie 

Ann’s books are available for purchase online, including a pre-order of her newest book, “Let’s Talk About Truth: A Guide For Preachers, Teachers, and Other Catholic Leaders in a World of Doubt and Discord.”

For more information and to register, please visit, click on events, then click on collaborative leadership. 

Author: Kristi Anderson

Kristi Anderson is the editor of The Central Minnesota Catholic Magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

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