Hundreds of Hispanic immigrant women mark graduation from AMSIF program at Mass

June 13, 2023

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo meets with one of the largest local groups of women in AMSIF from St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church after celebrating Mass and graduation at the Catholic Charismatic Center on May 16 in Houston. (Photo by Jo Ann Zuñiga/Herald)

HOUSTON — Dressed mostly in white with colorful scarves as accents, hundreds of Hispanic women celebrated Mass on May 16 with Daniel Cardinal DiNardo and more than a dozen pastors and deacons.

They were all participating in the graduation of those completing a five-year program of classes at their Catholic churches. The immigrant women have been learning English, family communications, basic computer and other life skills, including spiritual development, as part of a program called the Association for Comprehensive Enhancement of the Family (AMSIF).

Cardinal DiNardo told the nearly filled Catholic Charismatic Center, “AMSIF has been such a blessing to our churches and our community. Thank you all for being a part of this and sharing all that you’ve learned with your families and others.”

Veronica Ramos stood out among the crowd as she rocked her two-month-old son Jose Antonio in her arms. After the Mass, she described traveling with her large group of parishioners from Sacred Heart of Jesus in Conroe to the Charismatic Center off the Gulf Freeway to celebrate all together.

“This program teaches us so much. My son is the youngest of my three children, and I can help teach my daughters about our faith,” Ramos said. “I also help with Bible studies for adults.”

AMSIF was founded by a group of Catholic laywomen in Mexico more than 40 years ago as Asociación Mexicana de Superación Integral de la Familia. AMSIF was then introduced to the Houston-Galveston area in 2013 by the Archdiocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry. Now more than 1,000 local women participate and meet at more than 30 Catholic churches as part of the “Advancement Family Centers” in the Archdiocese.

“Since AMSIF came into our Archdiocese, they made a positive impact in the lives of many of our Catholic Hispanic women throughout different parish communities. They do an outstanding job in accompanying and strengthening mothers, grandmothers and other family members,” said Lazaro Contreras, director of the Office of Hispanic Ministry.
He added, “I have personally visited with them, and I am very impressed with the life of community and resources they provide not only for the wellbeing and spiritual enrichment of each of the women who participate but of their families. Their presence and participation in AMSIF not only impact their own lives as individuals but the whole family unit.”

Cardinal DiNardo, after Mass, met with one of the largest groups of women who were from St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church, where AMSIF first started locally 10 years ago. Right on the front row, beaming proudly for the picture, was St. Charles Borromeo parishioner Claudia Santiago sitting straight in her wheelchair.

The 48-year-old said, “This program gives us support so we can evangelize to our families and even strangers to show where we receive our joy!”

Now the program has quickly expanded over the decade, with St. Leo the Great Catholic Church and Prince of Peace Catholic Church having some of the largest groups.

One of the newer formed AMSIF groups is at St. Benedict Abbot Catholic Church off Hiram Clarke and W. Fuqua. As the hundreds of women streamed out after Mass, Father Brandon Nguyen, CSSp., pastor of St. Benedict, and Deacon David Johnson said their AMSIF group only has five women so far. “But they’re really excited to keep growing their program, especially after seeing this gathering,” Deacon Johnson said.

For more information on AMSIF, visit or call the local Catholic parish offices for referrals to the church program. †