The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock

15 Catholic young adults who inspire us, 2020

Young adults are sharing the Gospel as teachers, musicians and leaders in a variety of ways. Even during the pandemic, they are spreading Christ’s message during Mass, one on one or through their ministries.

While 50 percent of Catholics 30 years old and younger have left the Church, many are not only still Catholic, but they are also making their mark on their parish and campus ministry programs.

Church leaders around the state nominated young adults in the Diocese of Little Rock who are an inspiration to those in the pews. We interviewed millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) and Generation Z (born 1997 and later), asking them to share their faith journey. They work in schools, parishes and ministries full time, part time or as volunteers. Most are single, but some are married or have children.

We focused on Catholics 18 to 30 years old (born 1990 to 2002) for these profiles.

Aprille Hanson, Dwain Hebda, Alesia Schaefer, James Keary and Maryanne Meyerriecks contributed to profiles in this section.

*Editor's note: Articles will continue to be added to this section the week of July 27


Alex Tingquist: The WWJD Guardian

By Aprille Hanson, Published: August 4, 2020   

Attending the Catholic Charities Summer Institute, a high school diocesan program dedicated to the Church’s social justice teachings, changed Alex Tingquist’s life. “That was the first time I was really exposed to the issue of homelessness,” the 27-year-old said whose mother Liz is the diocesan youth and campus ministry director. Soon, he and his friends were distributing nonperishable food and toiletries under the Broadway Bridge. For about a decade, Tingquist has served the homeless including in Little Rock, More... 

Caroline Spellins: The Prodigal Daughter

By Aprille Hanson, Published: August 3, 2020   

Caroline Spellins, 21, calls herself “God’s prodigal daughter.” Coming from a devout family — Randy Spellins, now a diaconate candidate, mother Kim Spellins, a women’s Bible study leader, and three older sisters working in various forms of ministry — she, for a time, “followed in their footsteps” at Christ the King Church in Little Rock.  After attending the diocesan Search retreat in 2015, her relationship with God became personal.  “I always knew God, we were friends and More... 

Pamela, Brenda and Carolina Rosales: The Nurturers

By Maryanne Meyerriecks, Published: July 31, 2020   

Pamela, Brenda and Carolina Rosales, members of Immaculate Conception Church in Fort Smith, were nurtured in their faith by their parents. “Through our parents’ actions of service and leadership in the parish and diocese, we have been inspired to become active in our Catholic faith,” Pamela, 26, a first-year medical student at UAMS, said. “We have traveled all over the state and southern United States to attend retreats and Catholic conferences as a family. We all More... 

Thomas, Maria and Monica Long: The Trio

By Maryanne Meyerriecks, Published: July 31, 2020   

Thomas, Maria and Monica Long, who attend St. Michael Church in Van Buren, grew into church ministry by working alongside their parents as young teens. They sang with the youth choir their father, T.C. Long, directs. They volunteered at religious education, Vacation Bible School and other activities while their mother, Angela, worked as an assistant director of religious education. All three have served as lectors and Communion ministers. As home-schooled students, most of their activities were More... 

Juan Mares: The Youth Leader

By Dwain Hebda, Published: July 31, 2020   

A few years ago, Juan Mares wouldn’t have been caught dead leading youth ministry or the other ways he serves his home parish, St. Theresa Church in Little Rock. The 2020 Catholic High graduate said during most of his life, his faith was “cold.” “The only times I went to church was when I spent the night at my aunt’s house,” he said. “The entire family never really went to church and, if we went, it More... 

Lizeth Martinez: The Church Planter

Alesia Schaefer, Published: July 31, 2020   

Planting a church parish takes many hands and Lizeth Martinez, 21, has seen how a few helping hands can make a difference. Growing up and living in Prairie Grove, Martinez attended St. Raphael Parish in Springdale and then Mass in the storefront off the square in Lincoln (Washington County) until Sts. Peter and Paul Church in Lincoln was established in 2017. Over the past six years, Martinez has been a lector, Eucharistic minister, catechist for confirmation, More... 

Juan and Christen Reyes: The Bridge Builders

By Aprille Hanson, Published: July 31, 2020   

Juan and Christen Reyes live out their faith and openness to different cultures with their marriage and actions in the parish community.  The couple first met in Spanish class at the University of Central Arkansas. Christen, previously active in Christian ministry and played drums in the worship band, attended RCIA twice at St. Joseph Church in Conway with Juan. “We had to really delve into our faith together and figure out what we really believed and why. More... 

Bernard Smith: Promoter of Justice

By Aprille Hanson, Published: July 31, 2020   

Bernard Smith, 27, became a leader in music ministry and a youth minister at Immaculate Conception Church in Blytheville and St. Matthew Church in Osceola in the way many do. “An old lady in the front was like, ‘You should join the choir’ and dragged me over. ‘Hey, you’re young,’ and that’s how I got involved in youth ministry,” he said. While he’s stepping back from youth ministry to pursue his master’s degree, music is close to More... 

David Zamora: The Missionary

By Dwain Hebda, Published: July 31, 2020   

David Zamora grew up at St. Mary Church in his hometown of Siloam Springs. But it took a trip halfway around the world to show him how to truly live his faith. “This mission trip came about in college through an organization called Fellowship of Catholic University Students, or FOCUS,” he said. “I wanted to learn more and dive deeper into my faith before going out into the real world.” Zamora, 25, chose a monthlong men’s mission More... 

Kelsey Renard Lambou: The Helper

By Aprille Hanson, Published: July 30, 2020   

Kelsey Renard Lambou, 25, is most interested in the heart of a person, but not just figuratively.  “The heart is just the coolest organ. It’s just awe-inspiring to me to see an organ beat on its own. It’s kind of like my area where I feel closest to God because it’s awe-inspiring to see what God created and see how it works.”  She’ll be starting her third year of medical school at UAMS in Little Rock, after More... 

Adriana Aguilar: The Multi-Tasker

By James Keary, Published: July 30, 2020   

Adriana A. Aguilar was alone when she moved to her new home in the southwest Arkansas town of Nashville. The 27-year-old had left her grandmother’s home where she lived with her cousins in Laredo, Texas, and moved to Nashville for her new job with the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a farm loan officer. When she arrived in Nashville in September 2017, she was looking for some place she could call home and she found it More... 

Karla Alvarez: The Prison Minister

By Dwain Hebda, Published: July 30, 2020   

Not long after graduating Mount St. Mary Academy in Little Rock, Alvarez put her faith to work in McPherson Women’s Unit in Newport. “I would say it was a culture shock,” the 25-year-old University of Central Arkansas student said. “I had never ever been involved with prison in my life. I just knew that that was something that God had placed on my heart.” “I remember, clearly, my first day in prison. I had this conception of More... 

Barbara Barrosa: The Parish Leader

By Alesia Schaefer, Published: July 30, 2020   

Barbara Barrosa has never shied away from work. Since moving here with her family from Guanajuato, Mexico, in 1998, she has believed that you must trust in the Lord but also put in the work. And these are not just words, Barrosa, 27, practices what she believes. She graduated from Springdale High School in 2011, Northwest Arkansas Community College in 2015 with an associate’s degree and will graduate from the University of Arkansas in May 2021 More... 

Reagan French: The Teacher

By Dwain Hebda, Published: July 30, 2020   

Cabot native Reagan French felt drawn to contribute to her parish early in her childhood. The lifelong member of St. Jude Church in Jacksonville owed that drive, in part, to the ready example of service that was provided during her formative years. “Growing up, my grandma, Diane Cullen, was actually the secretary of the church and so I always understood the importance of service,” the 20-year-old said. “I spent a lot of time at the church More... 

Emily Sanderlin: The Proclaimer

By Aprille Hanson, Published: July 28, 2020   

When Emily Sanderlin serves as a lector, it’s more than just reading Scripture. “I think it really helped me to connect to the Word a lot more than I used to,” first serving as a lector as a teenager at St. Mary Church in Helena. “Otherwise you’re just kind of sitting there passively. When I became a proclaimer, I realized I had to do my research ... reflect on it more.”  Her dedication to her faith came More...