Born in East St. Louis, Illinois, Geri Furmanek serves the Province as National Director for Oblate Associates and Director of Mission Enrichment (a program that orients Oblate employees to the values of the Missionary Oblates, the charism of St. Eugene, and the mission of the Oblate ministries). Majoring in Theology, she received a BA in Theology from St. Louis University; and a Master’s degree in Pastoral Studies in Spirituality from Aquinas Institute of Theology, St. Louis, MO. For the past 20 years she has provided retreats on management, spirituality and formation programs, both nationally and internationally.
Mr. Herminio “Hermie” Alignay of Chula Vista, CA, and his wife, Marina are members of Most Precious Blood Parish. Hermie is presently the coordinator of the Oblate Associates in that area where he has been active in sending supplies and donations to Oblate Missions in Mexico, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. He has served on Parish Councils, as Past Co-Chairperson of the Post-cursillo Committee of the Filipino Cursillo Movement of San Diego, CA. He holds a BA in Business Administration and served in the U.S. Navy for over 25 years. He retired as master Chief Petty Officer (E-9).
Fr. Porfirio Garcia, OMI is a native of Veracruz, Mexico. He completed his philosophy studies in Tijuana; his Novitiate in Godfrey, IL; and his theology at Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, TX. His First Obedience was to Buffalo, NY, and then moved to Los Angeles in December of 2009. Since then, he has been serving the parish community at Mary Immaculate Church in Pacoima, CA.
Fr. Sal de George, OMI, a Texas native, is presently Pastor of St. Patrick’s Parish in Houston, TX. Ordained in 1965, Fr. Sal has spent much of his priestly ministry in Formation work. He has served the Oblate mission in various capacities: at St. Anthony High School Seminary for 13 years, directed the College Formation program, Southwest Area Superior and a variety of parochial assignments. He strongly believes that Oblate Associates can carry on the ministry and charism of St. Eugene that the original Missionary Oblates started.
Fr. Tom Ovalle, OMI is a Texan, and has been in various ministires throughout the Province, including vocation and formation ministry, retreat ministry, as well as a pastor. Ordained in 1977, he has served the Oblates in leadership positions as Southwest Area Provincial Councilor, Chaplain for Oblate Missions and presently as Provincial Councilor-at-large. Since July of 2011 he has ministered as the Director of the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, Belleville, IL.
San Juanita “Janie” Sanchez of San Juan, Texas is a member of St. John the Baptist Parish. The youngest of 10 siblings, born to migrant farm workers, she holds a BA in Business Administration from Pan American University and a Juris Doctorate from Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Practicing law for 15 years, her general practice is in McAllen, TX. In May of 2011 she was elected Mayor of San Juan (having served as its Mayor from 2005-08). Her outreach as an Associate includes playing the guitar and singing at Parish liturgies, directing the Children’s Choir, teaching CCD, Legion of Mary and St. Vincent de Paul Society.
Joseph Cipolla of Houston, Texas, has been connected to the Oblates almost all of his life, including graduating from St. Anthony’s Junior Seminary in San Antonio. “I remember seeing daily the Oblate motto outside the chapel and wondering, even today, how will I preach to the poor.” In 1984 he took over his father’s business as an air-conditioning and refrigeration mechanic. Presently he and his wife, Martha, are members of St. Patrick’s Parish, where he is involved leading the RCIA program and Bible study. In addition, he belongs to the ecumenical group “Males as Learners and Elders (MALE). He sees association with the Oblates and laity as a way to learn and encourage each other while ministering to the poor.