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Love in any language
Known by most as Ms. Jessica, the Hispanic ministry coordinator at St. Pius X Catholic Church stays extremely busy. Whether it's preparing a classroom for catechism class, translating documents or serving as a combination cultural liaison, social worker and community lynchpin, Jessica Garcia's drive to serve keeps her in a constant whirl of motion.

"Well, I love helping people," she said modestly, explaining what motivates her. "I love God and want to use my skills to help our faith community."

The parish's Hispanic population has grown considerably since 2004, when Garcia came to Conyers for the job. What started out as a small group that would gather at a mass has grown into a "full house" every Sunday.

Garcia's friendly demeanor and spunky, purple-tinged hair invites newcomers to embrace the parish. Originally from Peru, Jessica's deep faith in Christ, business administration background and ability to speak Spanish and English made her a natural fit and asset at the church.

Like others in full time ministry, Garcia's schedule involves many different locations and activities. Sometimes, she is busy on the phone, connecting people with resources. Locating ESOL classes, organizing Sunday school volunteers, promoting retreats and translating just about anything that's printed fills much of her time.

She reflected on her favorite aspect of the job. "I love watching the children grow up," she said. "I can't believe how much that they change."

On her office wall, she keeps some of the pictures drawn for her by children when she first came, although those children are now much older.

Her ability to translate is a true gift for those who are not able to come to church. Often, she accompanies Father John Kieran or Father Peter Vu as they visit the sick in hospitals or nursing homes.

When asked what a typical day entails, she smiles.

"Each day is different," she said. "But no matter what, I have an opportunity to learn about my faith. It's the most beautiful thing."

To find out more about the Hispanic ministry at St. Pius, visit