In 2014, Dominican Sister Yelitza Ayala Gilot arrived in Jacksonville, Texas, with two other sisters from Puerto Rico as members of the first cohort of Catholic Extension’s U.S.-Latin American Sisters Exchange Program.

Sister Yelitza

In a poor area where only 5 percent of the population is Catholic and immigrants were increasing, the sisters immediately saw the hardships.

“Immigrants worked so many jobs and had no time for family,” Sister Yelitza said.

The sisters created a religious education course at Our Lady of Sorrows, where children and parents learn side by side.

Kids and adults learn side-by-side

They worked with big groups and one on one.

“A woman from Guatemala was seeking political asylum, but the process is difficult,” Sister Yelitz said. “I accompanied her to lawyer appointments and all her meetings. Her suffering became my suffering.”

In Jacksonville, she visited parishioners to help keep their families close to the Church.

“Immigrants lack self-esteem,” Sister Yelitza said. “We help them see their talents and strengthen their faith.”

She has also gained from her service. “With every person I meet, I have learned so much about our Church, which is so diverse. I have seen Christ in each person,” she said.

Sister Yelitza waves to a family


You can help strengthen the Catholic Church in the poorest areas of the United States with a donation to the U.S.-Latin American Sisters Exchange Program. With the support of donors like you, Catholic Extension helps empower Catholic leaders to make a difference in their communities. 

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