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Mila Tecala, grief counselor, dies at age 73

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Mila Tecala, social worker, grief counselor and longtime diocesan volunteer and employee, died June 24. She was a parishioner of St. Andrew the Apostle Church in Clifton.

Tecala was born in the Phillipines, and earned her master of social work from the University of Michigan in 1966. She worked as a clinical social worker in Michigan before moving to Washington, where she started a private practice as a therapist and consultant. Her practice, the Center for Loss and Grief, focuses on helping people rebuild their lives after experiencing the death of a loved one.

She is the co-author of a book written to help attorneys and mental health professionals better understand their client's needs, titled Grief and Loss: Identifying Damages in Wrongful Death Cases.

In 1999, the Washingtonian named Tecala one of the top psychotherapists in the metro area. She was the National Association of Social Worker's Social Worker of the Year in 2000. After Sept. 11, 2001, Tecala worked as a grief counselor for the affected employees of American Airlines in addition to many others throughout the diocese.

Tecala was involved with Catholic Charities for more than 30 years. She served on Catholic Charities' board of directors, and provided training to staff on loss and grief. She was also the board liaison for Charities' Family Services Department.

David Cavanaugh, director of Family Services, said Tecala was a source of comfort in the wake of traumas. "She was able to leaven a calm and gentle curiosity around the hardest things we have to face," he said. "All of us are invited into the knowing love of God. I experienced Mila, just being herself, as extending that invitation."

She is survived by her two sons, Raoul of Vienna and Chris of Centreville, and five grandchildren - David, Grace, Johnny, Noah and Jack.

Visitation will be held July 7 from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. at Money and King Funeral Home in Vienna. A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at St. Andrew the Apostle July 8 at 10:30 a.m, with interment immediately following at Fairfax Memorial Park.

Husar can be reached at mhusar@catholicherald.com

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2016