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state mother of the year
Puerto Rico_Vilma L Rivera-Fontanez

Meet Vilma L Rivera Fontánez, 2023 Puerto Rico Mother of the Year®

March 23, 2023


Vilma Lourdes Rivera Fontánez is courageous, creative, persistent, and resilient. She has spent her whole life in the town of Aguas Buenas, and has been married to José C. Agosto since 1984. A Catholic music minister for more than 40 years, Vilma has served as a redemptorist lay missionary in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, the United States, and Puerto Rico. Vilma has not had an easy life, contracting the polio virus when she was two months old and experiencing many hard blows since then. However, she has faced each adversity with strength. God blessed her with a voice to praise her Creator, as well as the grace of a contagious smile and the passion to enjoy every moment of her walk. Vilma is a companion, a counselor, a cloth for tears, and a loving intercessor before God for her three children: José Carlos, Héctor Raúl (RIP) and Keyla María. Her four granddaughters are the joy of her home and another reason to thank God every day.

What surprises you most about being a mom?

The most surprising thing about being a mom is that, over time, my sons and granddaughters have become my teachers. When a difficult situation arose with them, most of the time it was because of something I had to work on: an attachment, some insecurity, some fear. They have taught me to see the world from a different perspective and to connect with my inner child. It is because of them that I have moved on, even with the death of my second son.

Who has been impactful in your journey as a mother? What lessons do you carry with you and share often through motherhood?

My mother was my greatest example and inspiration in my life. She raised my brother and me alone. On several occasions, she worked during the day and then spent the night with me in the hospital for my surgeries. She was a great fighter who never gave up under different circumstances. That’s what I learned from her. To be strong, fighter, and resilient.

How has being a mom shaped your life?

I rediscovered with my children forgotten facets of my childhood that should be maintained in adulthood, such as spontaneity, curiosity, the ability to surprise, innocence, or trust.