When MaryClaire Guanzon was 8 years old, she was diagnosed with a rare blood vessel disease that threatened her life while on vacation in her family’s native Philippines. After she survived, her parents began bringing her to daily Mass on Wednesdays and Fridays at St. Mark Church in Monticello. It’s a tradition she keeps 10 years later.
“My parents wanted to thank the Lord for me being alive pretty much,” said Guanzon, who recently graduated as valedictorian from Monticello High School. “ … I got to the point if I miss a Mass I feel like I missed out on something … He had the grace to decide to keep little old me around longer. So I just feel really blessed.”
Her way to give back revolves around singing in the church choir and being active in the Filipino community at St. Mark. As a freshman at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway majoring in health sciences with a physical therapy emphasis, she plans on getting involved in Catholic campus ministry and continuing to sing praises to God.
“Because the songs are chosen for the Mass and the message we’re going to be hearing about, I look into the lyrics definitely, and I just feel really good about singing to him because he’s the one who gave me the voice to sing,” said Guanzon, 18. “I just feel it’s something I need to do for him, and I feel great when I do it.”
• What or who makes you laugh? Why?
“I guess my dad makes me laugh. He just loves putting a smile on everyone’s face, and he’s very good at it … He’s a joker and good person overall and I just love him.”
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