Community Voices

Neighbors in Religion: New priest nurtured by family with strong ties to Catholic church

The Rev. Bryan Garcia, 26, a Miami native who graduated from Immaculate Conception School and Msgr. Edward Pace High School. His home parish is Immaculate Conception, Hialeah.
The Rev. Bryan Garcia, 26, a Miami native who graduated from Immaculate Conception School and Msgr. Edward Pace High School. His home parish is Immaculate Conception, Hialeah. Archdiocese of Miami

There is an old saying that goes something like this: “The family that prays together, stays together.”

In the case of the Rev. Bryan Garcia, the saying was never truer. Not only did Garcia’s family pray together, his faith was also nurtured at Catholic church and schools. He is a 2002 graduate of Immaculate Conception School in Hialeah, and in 2006, he graduated from Monsignor Edward Pace High School in Miami Gardens.

A few weeks after Garcia, 26, was ordained on Mother’s Day, I received a letter from Rene D. Bassulto, communications coordinator at Msgr. Edward Pace High School. He wanted me to know how the deep faith of one family guided their son to make the most important decision of his life — to become a Catholic priest.

I remembered Garcia’s name because he was among the recently ordained priests I’d written about. I remember thinking how fitting it was for them to be ordained on the day before Mother’s Day. They were ordained by Archbishop Thomas Wenski at St. Mary Cathedral. But it wasn’t until I received the letter from Basulto that I thought again about the old saying about families who pray together.

I was touched by Basulto’s letter. In a time when there are so many temptations tugging away at our children, the Garcias found a way to keep their children grounded — by teaching them about the Lord and bringing them up in church.

Garcia’s parents are devout Christians who are now principals at different Catholic schools. His mother, Ana Garcia, is principal of Pace high, where she has served since 2004. A Pace alumna, she also is a product of Catholic education. His father, Eddy Garcia, also graduated from Pace. Since 2013, he has served as principal of St. Louis Covenant School in Pinecrest. Prior to joining St. Louis, he was principal of Immaculate Conception in Hialeah for 13 years.

“My parents and grandparents were always great examples of faith and trust in God, even in the face of difficulties in their lives,” said the Rev. Garcia. “When I decided to enter seminary formation towards the priesthood, they were nothing but supportive of me and my decision to answer the Lord’s call to serve Him and His people.”

According to Basulto’s letter, Garcia’s siblings have also given back to the community through their faith. Older sister Jenise Garcia-Subveri, also a graduate of Immaculate and Pace, worked as a teacher at Immaculate and St. Agnes Academy in Key Biscayne. Younger brother Steven also graduated from Immaculate and Pace. He now serves as a Eucharistic minister, a service he started while still attending Pace.

Garcia’s ordainment was the culmination of years of service to his faith. But it is only the beginning of his journey of a deeper relationship with the Lord and service to his community. It was a journey he officially started on Mother’s Day, when he celebrated his first Mass at his home parish and school, Immaculate Conception Church. His entire family was in attendance.

Garcia said now that he is a priest he gets a lot of questions from his family about theology and morality. “But I am still just ‘Bryan’ to the [family],” he said. “And my brother Steven often reminds me, ‘You may be “Father” to everyone else, but for me you will always be “brother” first.’”

The new priest is now the parochial vicar at St. Andrew Catholic Church in Coral Springs.

Tracing Jewish ancestry

The community is invited to Temple Beth Tov Ahavat Shalom at 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2, for the second part of a three-part series entitled, “Tracing My Ancestry to King David,” as researched and arranged by El Saraiva Grangeiro. There will be a short review of the July 19 panels, but the main focus will be on the second set of panels, which continue to develop historical ties of El’s family to King David.

Light refreshments will be served. The cost is $5 per family. The genealogical presentation will also serve as an open house for the Conservative synagogue at 6438 SW Eighth St. in West Miami.

The third and final of the series will be from 1 to 4 p.m. on Aug. 30. Call 305-205-3846 or 305-279-8150 for more information.

Prestigious fellowship

Warm congratulations to David Monaco, who teaches history at Archbishop Curly Notre Dame Prep School, on being awarded the 2015 James Madison Fellowship for the state of Florida.

As a part of the award, Monaco will attend a seminar in early August at Amherst College in Massachusetts. The seminar will be led by Joseph Ellis, considered one of the foremost historians on the American Revolutionary War era.

Monaco was notified last April and said, “I was almost speechless when I got the news. This is the most prestigious award granted to a history teacher. It will allow me to realize my dream of becoming a historical/constitutional scholar while still being allowed to teach and give my students the benefits of what I am learning immediately, while I take courses. How much better can you get than that?”

The James Madison Memorial Fellowship foundation offers $24,000 in fellowships to individuals desiring to become outstanding teachers of the American Constitution at the secondary school level. Applicants compete only against other applicants from the states of their legal residence.

The foundation plans to offer one fellowship per state, per year, and is considered a prestigious fellowship for history teachers in the United States.

Send all items at least two weeks in advance to Religion Notes, c/o Neighbors, 2000 NW 150th Ave., Suite 1105, Pembroke Pines, FL 33028, fax it to 954-538-7018 or email Pictures are accepted but cannot be returned.