Maria Lupe Garcia, 22, grew up seeing her parents and older siblings take an active part in parish life and she decided to follow suit. She is the second youngest in a family of seven children. Two of her brothers, Jesús and Juan, were also recognized in this “15 Catholic Young Adults Who Inspire Us” feature in 2016.
At Immaculate Conception Church in Fort Smith, Garcia is the coordinator of Encuentro Promocion Juvenil, a Hispanic young adult group. With its spiritual director, Father Mario Jacobo, she leads a weekly meeting, which combines learning, socialization and an hour of adoration.
“I connect with God the most when I have moments of silence,” she said. “I have learned as the years have gone by, instead of me doing all the talking, to open my ears and my heart and allow God to speak.”
The group regularly volunteers to do service projects for the parish, the Salvation Army and other community non-profits.
Garcia, who works full time at the Sykes Call Center in Fort Smith, is on the diocesan committee that organizes two annual EPJ retreats each year — one for young men and one for young women. Garcia is also a member of the parish’s Hispanic Committee, planning and assisting with festivals and fundraisers. Plus, she is a substitute teacher in the Parish Religious Education program.
“I belong to a new dance group,” she said, “and we are practicing to dance at the Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration in December.”
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