In her role as the Director of Latino Ministry for the parishes of the Catholic Community of Waukesha, Juana Avila-Palacios offers pastoral formation to Hispanic families. The program helps parents respond to the Church’s call to be the “first and foremost educators of their children.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, parish staff began calling parishioners to check on them. Juana reached out to Latino parishioners at St. Joe’s. She started hearing stories about those who were out of work or having their work hours reduced. Many families are not eligible for other programs because they do not have a Social Security number. “There is an overwhelming need,” said Avila-Palacios. People are seeking help to pay their rent or mortgage, to buy food for their family and to ensure internet access for their children to continue their schoolwork at home.
“It’s been a learning experience,” Avila-Palacios said. Through this ministry, the parish community is now serving the Hispanic community in a holistic way, helping with both the spiritual and physical needs of their parishioners. In May, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Coronavirus Emergency Fund provided a $1,000 grant to the Catholic Community of Waukesha.
With the grant, the parish is able to provide groceries, gift cards and financial assistance to immigrant families in need.
“There’s a lot of worry,” Juana explained. Juana shared that many of those they are reaching out to have no options. They are desperate and didn’t have any hope.
In thanking donors to the Emergency Fund, Juana shared the impact the contributions have made through the distribution of food and financial help. “You can’t believe how relieved they are. You have made a huge difference. You have given them hope. Seeing someone bring them something brings them hope.”
Avila-Palacios believes that even at a time when we are missing Mass and missing the sacraments, we are building community. Your donation “is bringing people to Christ. They encounter Christ in the gift.”
As one of the parishioners who received a supply of groceries told Avila-Palacios, “Today, an angel came to my door.”
Thanks to generosity of many, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Coronavirus Emergency Fund is providing emergency needs to local families including food, personal care items, rent assistance and job referral services. Since May 23, grants have been distributed to parishes, St. Vincent de Paul chapters and local Catholic programs. Please consider making a donation to help alleviate the growing financial hardship caused by the pandemic in our area at www.archmil.org/Coronavirus-Emergency-Fund.