The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock

Father-daughter duo praises the Lord together at St. Mary's

Published: July 21, 2012   
Heather Strojek
Kristi Gonzalez and her father, Al Espinda, are music ministers at St. Mary Church in North Little Rock. They sometimes sing Hawaiian songs during Mass as a way to share their culture with other parishioners.

Full Names: Al Espinda and Kristi Gonzalez

Parish: St. Mary Church in North Little Rock

Home: Sherwood

Age: Al is 62; Kristi is 30

Family: Al is married to Mary and they have five children, Mele, 39, Alika, 37, Alvin Jr., 31, Kristi, and Laura, 28; and eight grandchildren. Their second-youngest daughter, Kristi, is engaged to Joseph Acosta, and she has two sons: Joseph, 7, and Cristian, 3.

Why you want to know Al and Kristi: Al and Kristi are father and daughter and serve as the choir director and cantor at St. Mary Church in North Little Rock.

In their own words

Arkansas Catholic's theme this year is "Catholic Beyond Sunday." How do you remain committed as a Catholic beyond Sunday?
Al: I remain committed through the music all the time. I am always preparing the music for Mass each week.
Kristi: I pray with my kids and try to be patient with them. I try to be an example to my children.

Why do you enjoy singing?
Al: I was raised in a musical atmosphere. My mom was a singer and my dad was a musician. Music always surrounded me.
Kristi: It lets me spend time with my dad.

Why do you like being Catholic?
Al: I was called to be Catholic. I was helping my wife, who was youth director, chaperone at a youth conference. I went to adoration, sat there and felt God just call me. I dropped to my knees and prayed. It took five years working at it before I became Catholic. On Aug. 19, 2005, I was baptized, confirmed, received my first holy Communion and was married in the Church.
Kristi: I have always been raised in the faith and it is tradition. I like knowing that there is always a home. No matter where I go in the world there will always be a church for me to go to.

How do you incorporate your Hawaiian culture into your everyday life?
Al: The Hawaiian culture is a lot of tradition. The biggest thing for Hawaiians is ohana, which means family. We do things in the community. We went to Kristi's school to spread the Hawaiian culture through dance music and history.

What did you do/did for an occupation?
Al: I am retired from the United States Air Force and am currently employed at Sears in North Little Rock as a receiving lead.
Kristi: I work for Pulaski Heights Elementary School as a third-grade teacher.

What is your favorite saint or Scripture?
Al: My favorite Scripture is Psalm 23.
Kristi: My favorite saint is Maria Goretti.

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