Antonia Rosas sits with her husband Rudolfo in their modest Pilsen home and declares “When I talk about St. Pius V, I’m talking about my heart.”
She makes this impassioned declaration because of the role St. Pius V has played in her family’s joys and sorrows – both of which have been plentiful. She and Rudolfo say that the support they received from St. Pius V during the difficult years after their immigration from Mexico kept their marriage and family together.
It started when they arrived in Chicago in 1995 with their toddler son. Antonia’s aunt invited her to join the parish Christian base communities. She accepted, she said, but participated only halfheartedly until parish staff member Dolores Tapia encouraged Antonia to give more of herself. She joined the parish leadership program, which, she says, taught her about her faith, about the principles of Catholic social teaching, and, perhaps most importantly, that she has her own voice she can use for good.
Antonia began using that voice to strengthen her family. Her participation in the parish women’s group helped her see that she and Rudolfo needed support as a couple. Though Rudolfo was initially resistant, they both say now that the programs helped them to understand each other, to improve their relationship with their three children, and to grow spiritually and emotionally. When Rudolfo brings out photographs taken on their wedding day – almost 25 years ago, Antonia says “Without the help of the programs at St. Pius V our marriage would not have lasted all these years.
With the help of St. Pius V Parish, Antonia and Rodolfo faced a challenge this spring that they met with uncommon grace and strength.
On a mild March afternoon Antonia answered the phone and heard the words no mother should have to hear: “Your daughter has been shot.”
Sixteen-year-old Mireya, a leader in the parish youth group, was walking with a friend in Pilsen’s business district after school when a gunfight erupted between two gangs. She was caught in the (See page three) hail of bullets. Miraculously, the bullet that struck Mireya passed through her body without hitting a vital organ. While in the hospital, she was concerned about informing the principal that she might miss some classes. After a few days she was back in school.
On Memorial Day weekend mother and daughter spoke publically about the importance of programs in the faith community to curb violence. At a summer kick-off for Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Faith and Action Initiative, Antonia expressed her gratitude for the life of her daughter. And Mireya? With her characteristic selflessness, she stood before the crowd and said, “I was so terrified. I thought I wasn’t the only one that got hit. I thought there were more.”
Speaking at the event Fr. Brendan Curran OP, St. Pius V’s pastor, pledged the parish’s support for the mayor’s efforts saying “Pilsen will be a model. We pledge that each and every Friday we will celebrate with block parties and join one another in prayer with Mass on the street. We commit ourselves to making our streets safe and we invite other communities to do the same.”
Later that week, at home with her parents, Mireya reflected on the values her parents share with her. She says she is “into” her faith in a way many teens aren’t because of her parents’ example and the support of the faith community at St. Pius V, and she outlined a plan for her future: a degree in social work and a lifetime of service — to give back to the community what she has received.