Paredes3Age: 20

Parish: St. Anastasia, Waukegan, Ill.

School: Junior studying as a nursing major and music minor, Marquette University

Hometown: Waukegan, Ill.

Briefly describe your Catholic background: I was born and raised as a Catholic. My mom is a cantor and my dad directs the Lake County Filipino Choir for Simbang Gabi, a Filipino Christmas tradition, every year, so I was exposed to Liturgical music at a young age. Though I’ve gone through a CCD program, I never actually attended Catholic school until Marquette, but I love God and my faith regardless.

What is your life goal? Having a family and always playing my music are two “musts” that come to mind, but aside from that, all I really want to do is help people in a way that makes both them and me happy. Not very specific, I know, but I want to spend my life working in that general idea.

What’s on your iPod? Hmmm… P!nk, Sara Bareilles, Colbie Caillat, Kari Jobe, JJ Heller, Justin Bieber, The Fray, Switchfoot, and Goo Goo Dolls.

Who has made the biggest impact upon you? I’d have to say my parents and my grandfather. I can’t really pick just one. All three are musicians, but my grandfather really walked with me in the ways of music, even when I was 5 years old and starting my piano lessons. My dad is the one who taught me perseverance and hard work, while my mom tends to be my inspiration for patience and compassion. I love them all and I’m incredibly grateful to have them as part of my life.

If you could dine with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why? I would probably dine with my grandpa. I miss him and I would love to hear him tell his stories one more time because memories start to fade.

What does your normal weekend look like? A normal weekend usually includes sleeping in, studying, taking some chill time – which could mean reading a little bit of a book for fun or spending some non-productive time away from responsibility – watching a movie with friends, attending/playing for Mass and doing my laundry.

What is your favorite prayer? I have two favorite prayers. The first is suscipe, “Take, Lord,” and the second is a morning prayer shared by one of Marquette’s Jesuits: “Live, Jesus, live, so live in me so that all I do may be done by thee, and grant that all I think and say might be thy thought and word today. Amen.”

What is your favorite quote? “Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in a love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” –Fr. Pedro Arrupe

What was your confirmation name? I chose my confirmation name after St. Lucy de Filippini. She was an Italian schoolteacher and affected a lot of change. I found her work and her life to be admirable.

What do you enjoy most about going to Mass? As a musician, I really appreciate being able to use one of my passions as a form of worship. It allows me to serve the congregation and connect with the other musicians in a way that’s much deeper than speaking. On the other hand, as an attendee, Mass is a set opportunity to simply worship God for at least an hour every week and it unites you not only with Him, but with every single Catholic in the world through the Eucharist! It’s always a very nourishing experience for me.                       

If you had one hour to do whatever you wanted, what would you do? Depending on my mood, I would either curl up with a book, journal, make some music, bake or play Just Dance 2 – no joke.

Can you share a challenge in life that has strengthened your faith? My challenge was actually three years long and started the summer after my sophomore year in high school. It brought two moves, the year-long decline and death of my grandfather, the passing of my dog, being a caretaker alongside my parents for my bedridden grandmother, who broke her hip the day of my grandfather’s wake and passed one month after I arrived at Marquette, a transition to an unfamiliar college full of strangers, a breakup with my long-term boyfriend, dealing with some degrading remarks about either my race or decided lack of musical ability and many stress-related problems at home.

To have all this piled up as a first-semester freshman made it especially hard to trust in anyone or anything; nothing in my life felt stable. Even making friends that year felt difficult because it seemed that none of my peers truly understood what I was going through; over time, some of the college friends I trusted the most ended up fading out of my life. It could get pretty lonely and my self-confidence really stared to wane.

But I stuck it out. If anything stayed the same during that period of time – or “desolation,” as the Jesuits would have it – it’s that God was always there. Not once did he leave me. My faith became that much stronger because sometimes all you can do is hold on, hope and trust that God will provide – and he does. It takes a lot of patience and perseverance from day to day, but if you keep waiting on him, you’ll find that things eventually work out exactly the way they were meant to be. Without this personal struggle, my faith wouldn’t have grown so much and I wouldn’t be the stronger young woman I am today.

What’s one thing that makes you unique? I can recite “I Know an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” by memory! Ask me sometime!