Then And Now: Siblings Share Love Of Faith, Arts
Published: July 19, 2012
It’s been almost 10 years since I took this photograph of Angela Rodriguez and her younger brother, Javier Rivera, as they were lining up for a procession at Mass celebrating the canonization of St. Juan Diego. It was held outdoors at St. Pius X High School in Atlanta. Angela was 13 and Juan was 4. Serving as flag bearers for their Jonesboro parish, St. Philip Benizi Church, they each held a Puerto Rican flag to represent their family’s ethnic heritage.
Recently I caught up with the siblings so they could reminisce about days gone by and bring me up to speed on what they’re doing now.
“I remember the stadium being full of people from numerous cultures and being fascinated by all the different attire,” said Angela. “I was surprised how many people showed up in support and celebration.” She also recalls that her parents were so excited about their appearance in The Georgia Bulletin they framed the article the same week it was published.
Angela and Javier talked about their family tradition of attending a special liturgy each year in honor of Our Lady of Divine Providence, the patroness of Puerto Rico. Javier said relatives come from as far away as Florida to attend the Mass. Angela said their parents, Carlos and Ophie, come together to sing and play in the church choir.
“They have been doing it for many years and it is always so-o-o beautiful,” said Angela. “I love when everyone starts to clap, sing, and even dance along with them.”
Angela Rodriguez, 13, and her brother, Javier Rivera, 4, line up for the procession to kick off the eucharistic celebration marking the canonization of St. Juan Diego at St. Pius X High School, Atlanta, July 31, 2002.
Angela Rodriguez, 23, and her younger brother, Javier Rivera, 13, share a common love for their faith and the arts. Angela, a theater and business student at Georgia State University, is a promising thespian. Javier, who plays the flute, will be attending the School of Fine Arts at Mt. Zion High School. (Photos by Michael Alexander)
Javier said their family is very devoted to the Blessed Mother. Every time he went to Ponce, Puerto Rico, to visit his grandmother when she was alive, she’d ask them to join her in praying the rosary at night.
“I’m actually going back (to Puerto Rico) for the first time in almost 10 years this year, and I am beyond excited,” said Angela.
She’s looking forward to returning to her parents’ birthplace and where she spent time as a young child. While she has fond memories of visits with her grandmother and walking to San Judas Church, she and Javier both mentioned how they enjoyed eating ice cream at the historic firehouse in Ponce known as the Parque de Bombas.
Angela graduated from Our Lady of Mercy High School, Fayetteville, in 2007. She attended the University of Central Florida, Orlando, for a year and is currently studying theater and business at Georgia State University, Atlanta. Angela has always wanted to be an actress. She has performed at theaters in Orlando and Atlanta, and this year The Metropolitan Atlanta Theater Awards nominated her in the “Minor Supporting Actress” category for her role in Act 3 Productions’ performance of the musical “Xanadu.” The awards ceremony takes place in August.
Javier just completed the eighth grade at M.D. Roberts Middle School, and this coming school year he will be attending the School of Fine Arts at Mt. Zion High School in Jonesboro. Javier plays the flute. He would like to be an architect, but plans to continue music as a hobby and play in different bands.
Javier and Angela credit their parents as great sources of inspiration for their interest in the arts. Ophie sings and Carlos plays at least five instruments.
“I was too little to remember this, but I heard from family and friends that when I was a baby, my mom used to sing to me while my dad played the guitar to calm me down,” said Javier. “So I guess music has always been a part of my life since I was a baby.”
This is the second in an occasional series appearing in The Georgia Bulletin entitled “Then and Now.” The series features people who have appeared in the newspaper’s photos over the years, along with news about what they are doing now.