DCCW recognizes young woman for faith leadership

Friday, Jun. 07, 2024
DCCW recognizes young woman for faith leadership + Enlarge
Leylahni Munguia Ayon, right, receives the Golden Rose Award from Barb Kerouac, president of the Diocese of Salt Lake City Council of Catholic Women.
By Laura Vallejo
Intermountain Catholic

VERNAL — Leylahni Munguia Ayon, a parishioner of Saint James the Greater in Vernal, received the Golden Rose Award from the Diocese of Salt Lake City Council of Catholic Women during the 2024 annual convention on April 27.

“The Golden Rose Award was established to recognize and promote the value of young women ‘making a difference’ in today’s world, one good deed at a time,” the DCCW webpage states.

The award, which recognizes a young woman for her outstanding skills in leadership, spirituality and service, was first presented in 2023 because “the organization is making a special effort to reach out to younger Catholic women,” said Patricia Voorhes, a St. Vincent de Paul parishioner who is the immediate past president of the National Council of Catholic Women.

Munguia Ayon, now 20, moved to Utah at a very young age. A cradle Catholic, she remembers her parents taking her to church every day, but “as I grew up I saw how people  started thinking they get freed from that [routine], so for me continuing growing in faith become very important,” she said.

“Being a Catholic is, hopefully, in your heart a lifelong  thing and by living your faith you lead people towards that,” Munguia Ayon said.

Growing up in Utah, “they used to tell me ‘Oh, you are so nice. What Mormon church do you belong to?’ And I was like, ‘What? I am Catholic.’”

Because of this, she always wanted to show what being Catholic was about, she said. “I realize that living my faith is the only way that I can bring awareness of the Catholic faith.”

Besides her parents’ examples, as a youngster the Gospel reflections every Sunday were formative, Munguia Ayon said. “For me they were like story times. … When I got to see this every Sunday, I was very happy.”

Her father’s job took him to different parts of the state, where he would attend different churches, “so he was always telling us, ‘Hey, guys, today I got to go to a new church,’ and show us which” one he went to, Munguia Ayon said.

That helped her realize that “when life happens, church will always be there for you,” she said.

Being involved in the Church has also helped her grow in the faith, she said.

“I have not always been so gracious, accepting the things that have been asked of me to be involved in, but in the end I love it,” she said.

For example, when she was asked to help with the choir at her parish, her first thought was “No one else my age is doing it,” she said. “But, honestly, through continuing in this position I realize that I have been able to get younger people involved, too; and, hey, Catholic adults are cool, too,” she said, referring to the fact that at first, directing older people in the choir caused her some anxiety.

If she weren’t active in the Church, she doesn’t know where would she be, Munguia Ayon said. She participates as a lector, choir director, parish secretary and youth mentor.

Being recognized with the Golden Rose Award was a shock, she said.

“There are so many other Catholic girls in the different churches in Utah and they are really Catholic, you can just feel. … So when I got recognized, I said to myself ‘Really? Me? All the way in Vernal?’ I was shocked but it is  a great honor,” Munguia Ayon said.

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