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When praying the Rosary, José says, ‘I like to pray thank you for little things’

By Nancy Rosebush Schertzing | Photography by Tom Gennara | November 2019

When praying the Rosary, José says, ‘I like to pray thank you for little things’

On the last Friday of summer vacation, José Alejandro Flores welcomes me to his family’s home. This rising junior at Lansing Everett High School, known as Alé at home, introduces me to his father, José, and mother, Nellie. Eventually, brother Eddie wanders out to the dining room where we are doing the interview.

José joins us as we talk about a typical week in this young man’s life. Looking sideways at his father, Alé begins: “Well, my parents take my phone away at 9:00 every night before I go to sleep.” José nods. “I don’t really like it, but I guess it helps me sleep better.

“I have classes at the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) Academy until 2:40, when Mom either picks us up, or Eddie and I walk home. I’m excited about taking AP European History this year, even though I don’t really like to write. I used to love to read books when I was younger, so maybe that’s why I do OK with writing.

“When we get home, Eddie and I start on the chores Mom leaves for us. My mom grew up in Mexico in a strict and religious family. Her mother used to tell her when she watched TV she was wasting God’s time.

“We don’t have an X-Box or gaming console. I sometimes wish we did. But then I say to myself that if I did have that, I don’t know how much time I’d be on it. My parents already have to remind me not to be looking at my phone all the time.

“When Dad comes home from work, we eat dinner. I tease Mom a bunch, but she’s the best cook. Tamales, enchiladas, any kind of Mexican food she makes is great. I’m grateful for the relationship I have with my parents. At dinner or any time, I can go to them for anything.

“Once a week, we say the Rosary together as a family. I usually like to pray thank you for little things – me being here, having all my limbs, you know, and for my parents. I don’t know how to put this into words, but just ... the pure love from them.

“Sunday is for church. We attend the Spanish Mass at 9 a.m. [at Cristo Rey Parish], but we’re at church by 8:00 unloading pop and setting things up so we can sell food and beverages after Mass. At our parish, different ministries sell tacos, tostadas, gorditas and drinks as fundraisers, so everyone gathers for breakfast after church. My parents do a lot of things, which means we’re usually working two or three Sundays a month. We go back to Cristo Rey for youth ministry from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

“Our youth group went to the National Catholic Youth Conference, which was neat. And I got to do the Diocesan Youth Leadership Camp. About 100 attendees and organizers spent most of a week at the St. Francis Retreat Center. It was part of the diocese’s effort to create new leaders in the Church. They helped us see that anybody given the opportunity can do something special with it.

“The future is something I’ve been thinking about for a while. Dad says that once kids leave the house it’s hard to keep going to church. Mom prays that the Holy Spirit will make something stick out of all the things she tells us.

“Honestly, I appreciate my parents for the opportunities they give me to go to church and have time with God, and with them. Sometimes I feel like the hate is more obvious and prevalent in our society because fewer people are going to church and not getting the message of the love that’s there.”