Associate Judy Leal



Tell us about your growing up years and family.

I grew up on a farm in northern Colorado as part of a Catholic parish in Greeley, Colorado. Out of five siblings, I’m second to the youngest. My sisters and I have many fond memories of growing up on a farm. All my grandparents came from Mexico and my cultural heritage is very important to me. I realized the importance of my family background during my first teaching experience on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota from 1975 to 1982. There, the native community welcomed me into their culture as one of their own. After that, I was able to study in San Antonio, Texas, where I met Sister Connie Arana. When I lived in Denver, I was asked to represent the Denver-based Province on a Connections Committee, which introduced me to the St. Francis Province, and I came to know the sisters there.

Please share a favorite story about your early community service.

I was an elementary teacher in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, in 2 different schools in Denver, and 2 schools in Santa Fe, New Mexico. I became very involved in a Mexican Parish in Denver in the 1980’s. I was elected as first assistant to the province in 1999 and re-elected in 2003. In 2004, with some professional help, I made a painful decision to leave the vowed religious life and have become the person I needed to become. After 16 years, I reconnected with St. Francis Province and have become an associate with the East Los Angeles group.

Why did you decide to become an Associate?

I became an associate in my retirement where I am abundantly blessed with ever new connections to Mother Magdalen’s community.

How do you share your Franciscan values and spirituality now?

I live in a retirement community in Windsor, Colorado. I feel so privileged to have time to read and pray more. Lately, I have been teaching ELL classes, which I love. I also take many walks with my Corgi/Australian mixed-breed dog named Honey.

What would you like us to know about being a Franciscan?

I feel my role in the community now is that I share lots of history.

Please share a favorite quote or verse.

Magdalen’s total dependence and confidence in God. St. Francis who relayed at his death bed, “I have done what was mine to do, now you must do what is yours.”

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