Tell us about your growing up years and family.
I was one of three boys raised in Boyle Heights, the third generation growing up in the same family home. We were also raised in a multi-generational environment of community activism. My mother and grandmother were strong leaders and role models, and we were one of several socially conscious families in Boyle Heights, a literal village of activists. My grandmother and her neighbor Ed Roybal, who later was elected to Congress and represented our district for more than 30 years, were childhood friends. Together, they were deeply committed to serving the needs of the community. Roybal introduced my grandmother to a small group of farmworkers before they were a movement and Cesar Chavez stayed at her house on more than one occasion. The farmworkers’ lawyer, Fred Ross, Sr., who educated, agitated, and inspired people of all races and backgrounds to overcome fear and despair, would leave his son over the summer months with my grandmother while he would go up north to help form the United Farmworkers Union. My mother, Erlinda Robles, was one of the founders of Mothers of ELA, a group of moms determined to protect their children and the environment. Single-handedly, they opposed the Governor and blocked the construction of a prison in our neighborhood. I recall that they would pack their bags and drive up to Sacramento to testify on behalf of communities all over California facing environmental justice issues. Their mantra and guidance for us was to “speak up for those individuals who do not have a voice.”
Favorite story about a first—or early—ministry.
In my early thirties, established in my career of design and marketing, I felt a call to religious life and entered Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. I studied and discerned for more than three years but, unfortunately, the process did not work out for me. I moved back to my family home and became active in my parish through Our Lady of Lourdes Church, where Lourdes Caracoza was serving as Director of Religious Education. I became a lector and began teaching formation classes to youth in the parish. I spent almost 15 years working in my parish, becoming certified by the Archdiocese as Baptism instructor.
Why you chose the Franciscan community?
After many conversations with Lourdes, she wrote a letter of recommendation to the Capuchins on my behalf. Over the years, we discussed Franciscan spirituality, and she eventually invited me to consider joining the Sisters of St Francis of Penance and Christian Charity as an associate. In my days with the Capuchins, I remember focusing on and dreaming about a quote by St. Francis who said, “And the Lord gave me brothers.” I thought that would be my life. Instead, the Lord gave me sisters! Where you live now and how you share your Franciscan values, lifestyle, and spirituality
I have been living in Alhambra for the past four years. In my role as professor at the Fashion Industry of Design & Marketing College, I developed curriculum for four courses, incorporating the Franciscan ideals that have been a major part of my life. I included a focus on sustainability, emphasizing the need for a smaller carbon footprint through conscious efforts towards preserving our earth and building communities utilizing sustainable products, recyclable packaging, and green marketing. Students were challenged to consider the creation and transfer of value to customers in ways that ensure that resources provided through nature and human-created capital are maintained or improved upon.
What you most want others to know about you and the Franciscan community.
My spirituality and my gifts and talents are intertwined like a web. Recently, I was asked to work with the Communications Team to create a new Province website. I sensed that God, the master planner, was stirring me to use my skills to expand our reach to others who are like-minded and ready to explore Franciscan Spirituality.
One of your favorite quotes from St. Francis, St. Clare, Mother Magdalen, or a Bible verse, poem, or other
words you find inspiring.
In a directive to his brothers, St Francis said (I am paraphrasing) “Where one of us is All of us are!” In other words, we are never alone. I also like this quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, “He who works with his hands is a laborer. He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. He who works with his hands, head, and heart is an artist.”
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I remain open to God’s plan. He keeps me moving and alive, and it is a reminder to continue to trust in God.