Our Story

Dr. Cuca Montecel, Ph.D. has devoted her life to manifesting the shared values of justice, compassion, and opportunity, focusing professionally on the education of all children. The Living Water Zen Community springs from that devotion, and is grounded in generosity, wisdom, compassion and integrity. 

We seek to  live the fullness of life in all circumstances and with all peoples.  We believe that differences are enriching and we seek common ground in which all beings can co-exist in peace.  Therefore, we are committed to justice, and we vow never to turn away from realities of oppression and discrimination, in particular the brutality of racism.

“When practiced attentively, Zen offers an ever-deepening insight into the oneness of life.  This insight reveals to us our own human potential and calls us to this potential in the service of others, and brings us to the present moment, clarifying and supporting our readiness to meet the ever-changing circumstances of daily life.” Robert Kennedy Roshi

Our Teacher

Roshi Cuca Montecel, Ph.D.

Dr. Cuca ‘Kosen’ Montecel is the founder and guiding teacher at Living Water Zen. She is Mexican American and a teacher in the White Plum lineage. Dr. Montecel is a dharma successor of Robert Kennedy, S. J., Roshi of Morning Star Zendo in Jersey City, New Jersey. She received dharma transmission and was installed as a Sensei (teacher) in June of 2015.  Kennedy Roshi conferred Inka (final seal of approval) in December 2020, making her a Roshi (Zen Master). She is a member of the White Plum Asanga. 

Dr. Montecel is President Emerita of the Intercultural Development Research Association. She has a doctorate in urban education and works to assure educational opportunity for all children. She is a Roman Catholic, a mother of two adult sons, a grandmother, and lives in San Antonio Texas with her husband of forty years.

Our Roots

Roshi Robert Kennedy, S.J.

Robert Kennedy, S.J. has been Roshi Montecel's teacher and guide in Zen for more than two decades, and therefore he is the "root teacher" of Living Water Zen.  He is one of several practicing Catholic men and women who are recognized by the Buddhist community as zen teachers.  He is a licensed psychoanalyst and professor emeritus of theology at St. Peter’s College in Jersey City, NJ. 

As a Christian Fr. Kennedy has found meaning and deep reverence in the practice of Zen.   He is active in interfaith work, teaching Zen to persons of all faiths, conducting retreats in the United States, Mexico, Ireland and England.  

He studied Zen in Japan with the Japanese master Yamada Roshi. He continued his study under Maezumi Roshi in Los Angeles and Bernard Tetsugen Glassman Roshi in New York; in 1997 he received inka, the formal seal of approval, from Glassman Roshi and received the title Roshi, or Master. He holds doctorates in Theology from the University of Ottawa and from St. Paul University in Ottawa, a Masters in Theology from Sophia University in Tokyo, and a Doctor of Ministry in Psychology and Clinical Studies from Andover-Newton in Boston. He is a graduate of the Blanton-Peale Institute of Religion and Health in New York. 

Roshi Kennedy has written two books on Zen and Christianity: Zen Gifts to Christians and Zen Spirit, Christian Spirit.

In 2017, Roshi Kennedy received two honorary doctorates, one from St. Peter's University, and one from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.