The Official Newspaper of the Diocese of Little Rock

15 Young Adults Who Inspire Us 2023

Church attendance among young adults is declining, but there are many millennial and Gen Z Catholics who have a strong faith and willingness to teach the faith. We went searching for examples and found 15 who were volunteering or working for the Church as parish and school employees. Most are single, but some are married and have children. 

Arkansas Catholic asked Church leaders to recommend young adults who are an inspiration to Catholics in the pews and classrooms. We interviewed millennials (those born between 1981-1996) and Generation Z (born between 1997-2012), asking them to share their faith journey. For these profiles, we selected Catholics born from 1993 to 2005, now 18 to 30 years old.

Profiles written by Aprille Hanson Spivey, Alesia Shaefer, Maryanne Meyerreicks and Nicholas Tarini.


Zack Gramlich: Faith in Office

By Arkansas Catholic Staff, Published: August 31, 2023   

FORT SMITH Zack Gramlich, 30, is a middle school science teacher, first-term District 50 state representative, husband to Bonnie and father to eight-month-old Tiffany.  He is a lifelong St. Boniface parishioner, and both he and his daughter were baptized in the same baptismal font as his grandfather in the 1940s.  “My grandfather taught me a lot about God, life and relationships,” he said. “I still drive his truck, a 2008 Dodge Ram, and carry his Bible with me.”   Gramlich More... 

Noah Koch: Using his gifts

By Arkansas Catholic Staff, Published: August 30, 2023   

MORRILTON AND FAYETTEVILLE Noah Koch, 20, was born and raised Catholic, faithfully attending Sacred Heart Church and School in Morrilton. But it wasn’t until he attended the diocesan youth retreat Search #146 in his junior year in 2019 he learned his life as “a pretty good Catholic” was not enough.  “Going to Search really opened my eyes and showed me that there was so much more to being Catholic than just going to church, praying, having a More... 

Sarah Duvall & Gracie Weidman: In perfect harmony

By Arkansas Catholic Staff, Published: August 29, 2023   

Sarah Duvall was going to let her faith take a backseat in college. The born and raised Catholic, who attended Sacred Heart Church and School in Morrilton, still planned to attend Mass but wanted to shift her focus. But God had other plans when she, “spur of the moment,” signed up for a small group Bible study. It’s where she met her now-best friend Gracie Weidman, a cradle Catholic from Immaculate Conception Church and School More... 

Naomi Lee: Following parents' footsteps

By Arkansas Catholic Staff, Published: August 29, 2023   

BENTON Naomi Lee, a lifelong member of Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Benton, has always felt the calling to serve, especially to serve those younger than herself. In addition to lectoring at Mass and being a member of the young adult group, Lee is also the youth minister, a position her parents Deacon Ron and Collette Lee filled for 25 years. Lee’s dedication to the youth group comes from her own experiences with Catholic Youth Ministry More... 

Shannon Trantina: Putting away anxious thoughts

By Arkansas Catholic Staff, Published: August 29, 2023   

CONWAY Shannon Trantina, 20, has a heart for ministering to girls, especially those striving to “navigate the hard things with God.” Trantina, a lifelong parishioner and graduate of St. Joseph High School in Conway, spoke a few times this past year to junior high girls on how her spiritual life saved her from anxiety and gossip.  “I had the realization that God has everything in control, and he has a plan I can’t see and it’s all More... 

Kenya and Adrian Soto: Parents going the extra mile

By Arkansas Catholic Staff, Published: August 29, 2023   

Danville Kenya and Adrian Soto represent the young leaders being formed at St. Andrew Church in Danville. The 30-year-old parents have two children, a 12-year-old daughter who has a severe seizure disorder and an 8-year-old son.  Kenya Soto has taught PRE classes for fourth to sixth graders and currently teaches preschool through second grade. The parish had only Spanish-language Bibles, and when one of her PRE students wished he had an English Bible, Soto helped them lead More... 

Leticia Pina: Building a stronger parish

By Arkansas Catholic Staff, Published: August 28, 2023   

DARDANELLE Leticia Pina, 25, is raising two daughters, 4-year-old Esmeral and nine-month-old Dalioa on her own, but still finds time and energy to be a young leader in St. Augustine Church in Dardanelle.  Described as being “mature beyond her years,” Pina shares her faith with her daughters and at PRE classes. “I’m teaching seventh and eighth grade this year, but I have taught almost every PRE level from First Communion on up,” she said.  This year, she started More... 

Matthew Moix: He's got the music

By Arkansas Catholic Staff, Published: August 28, 2023   

ROGERS AND CONWAY Blending his passion for music and ministry together, Matthew Moix, 20, keeps the rhythm of music alive in his life and as a ministry for others. Currently a junior at the University of Central Arkansas majoring in logistics and supply chain management, Moix prioritizes both his academics and campus ministry. He participates in four different Bible studies and is a band member who plays both the piano and guitar for the student Mass on More... 

Juan Olivas: Male role model

By Arkansas Catholic Staff, Published: August 27, 2023   

ARKADELPHIA For Juan Olivas, the road to the rest of his life began in high school.  The 23-year-old currently attends Henderson State University in Arkadelphia, where he is majoring in education. Olivas, a lifelong parishioner at St. Mary Church, also in Arkadelphia, is in the Marine Corps, but his passion lies in the classroom. Whether it’s through teaching or leading a youth group, Olivas seeks to guide the next generation. “Getting into high school, I saw that there More... 

Grace Ellis: Pieces of who I am

By Arkansas Catholic Staff, Published: August 26, 2023   

FAYETTEVILLE AND LITTLE ROCK When Grace Ellis found her home at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish at the University of Arkansas, she could not stop talking about it. That made her a perfect match for the development and outreach intern position she now holds, running all the social media for the parish.  Her involvement began her freshman year when she joined a Bible study at her cousin’s prompting.  “My sophomore year, I was always around St. Thomas,” she said More... 

Grace Ridgeway: Building young faith

By Arkansas Catholic Staff, Published: August 26, 2023   

LITTLE ROCK Grace Ridgeway grew up around the Catholic faith more closely than most children thanks to her mother, Becky Ridgeway, youth minister at Christ the King in Little Rock and director of Team Jesus. Now a teacher at Christ the King School, Grace Ridgeway is able to pass on her love for the Church. “I feel very blessed to teach at a Catholic school where faith is a priority,” Ridgeway said. “It's kept me very accountable More... 

Alondra Morales: Find a balance

By Arkansas Catholic Staff, Published: August 25, 2023   

LITTLE ROCK While it can be easy to get caught up in the rush of college life, Alondra Morales proves it’s still possible to be active in parish life. A student at UA-Little Rock and a parishioner at St. Edward Parish in Little Rock, Morales has found a balance between school and faith. “When it comes to anything with school and work, I leave it at school and work,” Morales said. “But when it comes to faith, More... 

Andrew Orr: Path of Discernment

By Arkansas Catholic Staff, Published: August 25, 2023   

JONESBORO AND LITTLE ROCK Catholic High School graduate Andrew Orr has grown his faith in many ways throughout the years by faithfully attending Our Lady of the Holy Souls Church in Little Rock, keeping an adoration hour at Christ the King Church in Little Rock and participating — and later volunteering — in diocesan youth events, most notably Search and Catholic Charities Summer Institute.  While each experience produced spiritual fruits in his life, the quiet moments listening More... 

Elizabeth Guerrero: Tuning In

By Arkansas Catholic Staff, Published: August 25, 2023   

LITTLE ROCK No person is too young to make a difference. This is what Elizabeth Guerrero proves in her ministry at St. Theresa Church in Little Rock. The 18-year-old is already an active member in her parish community. Serving as the receptionist at the church, Guerrero plans events, edits the bulletin and helps the Hispanic community as well as coordinating the parish choir. One of Guerrero’s passions is music, and singing plays a big role in her More...