Year Joined MKLM: 2000
Country: U.S.-Mexico Border
City: El Paso, Texas
Ministry: Community volunteer at Casa Vides, a shelter for asylum seekers released from ICE or CBP detentions and at “La Tilma” food pantry program of Sacred Heart Church
Ministry Area: Justice and Peace
Ease the migrants’ hardships and give them a caring and peaceful transition moment before they embark on their new lives and challenges in the U.S.
At Casa Vides my role is to serve short-term guests who are asylum seekers, refugees, migrants (men, women, families, children) who have been released from ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) or CBP (Customs and Border Protection) detention as well as asylum seekers with disabilities and those who are patients at University Medical Center. At the shelter we provide board and lodging, clothing, personal care of disabled guests (many of them due to falls and accidents while crossing the border), and are a resource and linkage to other organizations in support of guests’ needs. Casa Vides is part of the Annunciation House organization in El Paso and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. My responsibility includes many roles: administrative (interviewing and accepting guests), office work, cooking meals, laundry/cleaning, caring for the disabled guests’ needs and social activities.
At La Tilma, the food pantry program at Sacred Heart Parish community, we pack dry goods food and prepare and cook fresh meals, which are distributed once a week to persons experiencing homelessness, migrant workers, refugees, marginalized families, the elderly, and men and women who have lost their jobs.
Another ministry is at the Encuentro Project as Group Shepherd. It is an immersion program in the El Paso-Ciudad Juarez border region for participants to experience a deeper understanding of the complex migration reality and the opportunity to serve asylum seekers in one of the Shelters.
Coralis was born in the Philippines and graduated with a liberal arts degree in international studies from Maryknoll (now: Miriam) College in Quezon City. After moving to the United States, she lived in San Francisco, California, raising five children and working as an investment banking firm administrator. She was active in St. Cecilia Parish, San Francisco, and volunteered with the San Francisco HIV & AIDS Suicide Nightline.
In 2000, Coralis began her journey with Maryknoll Lay Missioners, serving in Kenya. Most recently she coordinated the HOPE (Helping Orphans Pursue Education) Project in Mombasa. Previously, Coralis was the administrator of the first epilepsy clinic of Mivumoni, located in the rural area of Shimba Hills. In Kilifi, north of Mombasa, Coralis served as a member of the Pwani Secondary School for the Deaf Resource Committee. She provided ongoing outreach and helped raise funds to complete the construction of the first deaf secondary/vocational school in the coastal region of Kenya in 2008. In 2012, the school graduated its first Form IV students.
Coralis was on the initial Mombasa archdiocesan team that built a rescue center for trafficked and abused children and young adults. She managed two dispensaries in St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Kikambala. They addressed the plight of neglected epilepsy patients on the North Coast.
Based on her experiences, Coralis has co-authored the book What’s So Blessed About Being Poor (Orbis Books 2012).
Coralis says, “Jesus invited his first disciples to ‘come and see’ (John 1:39). I came to mission to ‘come and see’! Unbeknownst to me, I’ve been conquered and transformed. It’s been more than 20 years of fulfilling evolvement through serving the marginalized women and children of Kenya and now migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. I continue to serve because being a lay missioner is my vocation and life. I invite you too to ‘COME and SEE.’”