Anna Garcia Smith, 27, a member of St. Boniface Church in Fort Smith, has a passion for youth and young adult ministry. She immigrated to Orlando, Fla., from El Salvador at age 11, adjusting to her new home with the support of a strong faith community.
At the University of Florida, she was active in the Catholic Gators campus ministry, going on missions to Belize and the Dominican Republic. After graduation, she served in AmeriCorps at Greenwood, Miss., where she met her husband James.
“Our first date was Mass and it led to marriage,” Smith said. “James was an AmeriCorps volunteer in a nearby town, and we got to know one another through our faith. Our Franciscan parish hosted lots of college students on mission, and we grew close to the young adults there.”
After completing their service, the Smiths moved to Van Buren, and Anna spent two years teaching fourth and fifth grades at St. Boniface School.
This year, she is Trinity Junior High School’s new Spanish teacher, and she is eager to excite her students about Latin American culture and faith through feast day celebrations and multi-cultural activities.
After she completes her master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of Arkansas, Smith hopes to start a Catholic young adult group in the River Valley.
• If you could meet Pope Francis, what would you ask him?
I would ask him how Latin Americans can keep their faith traditions going when they move to different countries because if they don’t, they can lose their faith.
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