SALT LAKE CITY — Maria Farrington, who has served as executive director for Holy Cross Ministries since 2015, has retired. John Kirsling, the nonprofit organization’s director of finance has been appointed as the interim CEO.
Holy Cross Ministries, a nonprofit organization sponsored by the Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, was created in 1994 to serve the poor and underserved. With offices in Salt Lake City and Park City, they offer health, education and legal immigration services.
Prior to her appointment as executive director at HCM, Farrington had been the CEO of Discovery Gateway children’s museum in Salt Lake City; in her 37-year career she also had served as director of programs and initiatives at Centro de la Familia de Utah, and as president and executive director of an educational services program in San Antonio, Texas. In addition, she had been a member on the boards of Holy Cross Ministries, the Barbara & Norman Tanner Center for Non-Violence at the University of Utah, and KRCL Community Radio. She has been the recipient of the Governor’s Hispanic Leadership and Community Service Award, and was named as YWCA Outstanding Leader in Human Services.
“As the first laywoman to lead Holy Cross Ministries, Maria always reflected an appreciation for the tradition of the Holy Cross Sisters in Utah, had a personal commitment to the mission and an astute understanding of the needs of this local community,” said Msgr. J. Terrence Fitzgerald, vicar general emeritus and a Holy Cross board member. “Her deep Catholic faith, sense of compassion and concern, especially for vulnerable women and children, made her the inspiring leader and effective executive she has been. Under her leadership the agency expanded its role in the community and clearly focused on those most in need of its services. Maria will be greatly missed.”
Being able to contribute to the 140-year history of the Sisters of the Holy Cross in Utah as the first non-religious leader of that organization, “was just a capping honor for me,” Farrington said. “It really was the honor of my life. … I’m just so proud of the fact that they had enough trust in me to allow me to lead under their guidance.”
In her time at HCM, Farrington said the organization “did a very careful review of the changing landscape of human service needs, sticking really, really close to the mission of Holy Cross Ministries,” which is to “respond to the underserved community’s need for health and well being,” according to hcmutah.org.
A strategic plan was also begun, to determine if there are areas where services are needed, and the second phase of this plan is being enacted, Farrington said.
One area in which they have increased services is to women who are immigrants, and usually mothers, who have been the victims of domestic violence and face the threat of deportation. HCM had received funding to continue to help these women and their families, Farrington said.
Another accomplishment that Farrington points to with pride is a change in the HCM bylaws that dictate who is eligible to sit on the organization’s board of directors; a process that took almost seven months, she said.
Farrington still says “we” and “us” as she speaks of Holy Cross Ministries, and she will continue to be a part of it because she plans to join the Holy Cross Associates, an affiliated group that meets quarterly for prayer, spiritual discussions and good works.
“I’m so impressed with the philosophy of Holy Cross that as a Catholic I really want to place my own life in that trajectory as well, in terms of social justice, in terms of recognizing the underserved and making that a part of who I am and what I do in life,” Farrington said. “Both my husband and I are very committed to not just the Sisters of the Holy Cross but the philosophy of Holy Cross Ministries.”