Boston — A native of the Dominican Republic who came to Fall River as a young adult, Felix Gonzalez has been involved with United Interfaith Action (UIA) for 13 years and a board member for the past two years.

Felix Gonzalez, right, from Fall River, was recently awarded the United Interfaith Action Shining Star. With him are, from left, his son Paul; his wife, Lucia Cuello; and his daughter Amy. (Photo © Karen Elliott Greisdorf)

A leader in the Hispanic Community Ministry at St. Mary’s Cathedral of Fall River, Felix has led many UIA Community Action Meetings over the years with public officials around the issues of education, youth, and job development, and he helped to co-chair UIA’s first public actions on Zoom and to offer simultaneous interpretation remotely. He cares most passionately for immigration justice issues, through his own lived experiences.

“I grew up in a very humble neighborhood in the Dominican capital (Cristo Rey, Santo Domingo). That is why at an early age I got involved in the popular struggle to represent those who have no voice and who are ignored by the great domes of society,” said Felix. “Upon arriving in the United States in search of providing better opportunities for my family, I noticed that the differences were very marked also in this developed country.”

The Shining Star Award is presented annually by the Massachusetts Communities Action Network (MCAN) to seven leaders representing each affiliate in their statewide network. “Felix is a gentle, inviting soul who others instinctively follow,” said Janine Carreiro-Young, MCAN executive director. “He’s clear, honest and full of love. Felix is absolutely a shining star and a gifted ambassador for our statewide work in Southeastern Massachusetts.”

Felix’s longterm commitment to the work of UIA is rooted in his faith. “The idea of belonging to an organization where the center, the pillar of it, is faith, filled me with great satisfaction and desire to continue the struggle that began in my country of origin during my youth. We have been involved in many actions related to immigration, education, drug abuse, minimum wage rise, driver license for undocumented, etc. I’m glad and proud to be a member of UIA and I’ll continue looking forward to keep providing support and fighting for social justice, equity, racism and equality.”

At this time, UIA also celebrates the hiring of a new Fall River Community Organizer, Alejandra Riasco. Alejandra moved to Fall River from Columbia 14 years ago and is active with her family in St. Mary’s Cathedral. Most recently she has been an Outreach Supervisor with Positive Action Against Chemical Addiction helping to oversee community education and distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine among a diverse community in Fall River. In Alejandra’s new role with UIA, she will continue to build relationships across the city and develop grassroots leaders to put their faith into action for economic and racial justice in Fall River.

United Interfaith Action of Southeastern Massachusetts is a multi-faith, multi-ethnic non-profit working collaboratively on issues to promote racial and economic justice through prophetic, faith-rooted community organizing. We advocate at the state level as Massachusetts Communities Action Network and at the national level as Faith in Action.