For many years, Sister Ana Maria Gomez, SDS ministered as a licensed practical nurse to patients and residents of elder care facilities. She was working in an Arizona nursing home when a priest asked her to join him on prison visits to provide bilingual translation. Her first visit sparked a passion for prison ministry that grew over the years. She began distributing the Eucharist to inmates and leading prayer services. Her work also evolved into a “listening ministry” for prisoners who needed to talk to someone who deemed them worthy of forgiveness.
“I love this ministry,” says Sr. Ana Maria. “I went to the prisons to find Jesus and I saw Him in each prisoner’s eyes.”
Back in 2010, Sr. Ana Maria was honored as Religious Volunteer of the Year by the Arizona Department of Corrections. She was grateful to receive the award, but said the honor could never compare to the fulfillment of her longtime prison ministry. She dedicated more than 23 years as a Sister of the Divine Savior to serving the spiritual needs of persons in federal, state and private prisons around Florence, Ariz. Sr. Ana Maria’s weekly prison visits fed a hunger for God that inmates experience as they reflect on lives devoid of hope, family and friends.
Sr. Ana Maria was born in Colombia, South America. She came to Milwaukee to enter the Sisters of the Divine Savior in 1948. She celebrates 65 years of profession as a Salvatorian Sister in 2017.
Sr. Ana Maria’s decision to enter the Salvatorian Sisters’ community was influenced by her high school religion teacher, the late Father Robert Weber, SDS. He was one of the first Salvatorians to go to Colombia. For Sr. Ana Maria, belonging to the international Salvatorian Family of sisters, priests, brothers and Lay Salvatorian women and men is a very special gift. Asked how she would encourage young women to consider Salvatorian religious life, Sr. Ana Maria replies, “All I can say is come and see–you’ll find love and a bigger family.”