The Diocese of Laredo nominated the Santa Monica Angels from Santa Monica Mission in El Cenizo to be recipients of the Lumen Christi Award. Catholic Extension's Lumen Christi Award honors an individual or group working in one of America's mission dioceses who demonstrates how the power of faith can transform lives and communities. Lumen Christi recipients are the hidden heroes in our midst. They bring light and hope to the forgotten corners of our country and inspire those around them to be the "Light of Christ" as well.
Maria Jaime teaches religious education every Saturday at Santa Monica Mission in El Cenizo, a remote and arid region of South Texas in the Diocese of Laredo.
One day she noticed that the students attending class were mostly the children of immigrants whose families did not receive any kind of assistance. Students would show up in class asking for food because their last meal had been the previous day, Friday at school. When confronted with this situation, she and other volunteers decided to take matters into their own hands and started making food to pass out before class. This simple act of love turned into the feeding program that the Santa Monica Angels now provide to all children.
Mrs. Jaime, Angelica Cantu, Rosa Davila, Martha Arroyo and Norma Losoya comprise the Santa Monica Angels. They provide both spiritual and physical nourishment to 60 children. Their ministry is a blessing to the people of El Cenizo where they serve Santa Monica Mission as Religious Education Coordinators and volunteers.
Mrs. Jaime and her Angels coordinate the children’s religious education and youth activities, events, fundraisers and special outreach programs of evangelization and social service. Father Joel Perez, who has served the community as pastor since 2015, provides sacramental ministry to Santa Monica.
The Santa Monica Angels, under the leadership of Fr. Perez, are rich in faith and passion for their ministry and serve as examples of humility and selfless leadership. They work on behalf of the poor and use their own finances to make sure that the children of El Cenizo are fed before class while building relationships of trust with the immigrant families whom they serve.
They are always cheerful and positive, despite the economic and social challenges they face. The success of the mission and ministry of the Diocese of Laredo on the U.S.-Mexico border relies upon the missionary spirit of men and women like the Santa Monica Angels whose priority is service to God and his people.
The residents of El Cenizo are primarily recent immigrants from Mexico and Central America. The parishioners of the mission are rich in faith but financially are unable to sustain the ministry’s mission and outreach programs.
The Santa Monica Angels are loved and respected by their community and their work in Santa Monica Mission is well known throughout the Diocese of Laredo. Their love for their community and dedication is an example for other diocesan ministry leaders. These Angels inspire vocations of service through their kindness and the great joy with which they embrace challenge and adversity.
This story was first published on https://www.lumenchristiaward.org/santa-monica-angels. To see a full list of all nominees, visit https://www.lumenchristiaward.org/.