Ana Lilia Rojas Corona
Diocese of Des Moines, Iowa
Ana Lilia’s ministry is one of accompaniment for individuals and families in moments of crisis. She is a compassionate leader when people face challenges: sudden deaths, illness of family members, immigration emergencies, divorce and separation. She is the face of the Church not only for her fellow parishioners at the Basilica of St. John Church in Des Moines, but for members of nearby Hispanic communities.
She is a graduate of the Hispanic Lay Leadership formation program for the diocese through the University of Saint Mary of the Lake. She inspires others to also get involved in serving others and shows them that differences in faith should no be a barrier when it comes to assisting those in need.
She is active in helping immigrants navigate the challenging path to citizenship. For example, she volunteers with American Friends Committee and helps them promote their “Know your Rights” sessions and educational events for the immigrant community.
“Mrs. Rojas participates in several movements that help give voice and aid to the current immigrant reality within the Des Moines area,” said Bishop Richard Pates. “She is always willing to contribute to the vision that the diocese has for the Hispanic community and her ministerial efforts contribute to creating unity and a lively spirit among all.”
She has many commitments in her daily schedule. The list includes: assisting with the Quinto Encuentro Process, holding fundraisers to help families who need financial assistance to pay for medical treatment, teaching Bible classes, helping with Quinceañera formation, volunteering at LUNA (Latinas Unidas por un Nuevo Amanacer, a non-profit to help victims of domestic violence), helping medical students at Des Moines University with Spanish vocabulary for medicine and mentoring young Latino students through a program called “Al Exito” (“To success”).
As a wife and mother of three young boys, who are growing alongside her in their own formation as community members, her family is always close to her heart. She told a story about faith and her relationship with her father. After years of not seeing each other because of an estranged relationship, he recently came to visit from Mexico. During his six-week stay, her father saw all that Ana did for others and how important her faith was to her. Being moved by this experience, he decided to go back to the Church and to receive the sacrament of reconciliation after a 15-year absence. She could not believe that just by her example, she inspired her own father to return to the Church.
“I have come to learn that our faith is not just about believing, but also about living it, because there is a merciful God,” she said. “No matter how many bad things happen, God is always there.”
One of her colleagues noted, “Mrs. Rojas volunteers her time to serve others out of the kindness of her heart and commitment to her community. She is the definition of what Gandhi described as ‘being the change you want to see in the world.’”