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Hope Central: From Gangs to God & from the Law to the Lord

On February 16, St. Sebastian’s hosted two powerful speakers, Alberto Machuca P’27 and Pastor Jose Hernandez, who spoke about the role God has played in leading them to lives of service. The presentation, “Hope Central: From Gangs to God & from the Law to the Lord,” was brought to us by the Watts 2 Boston Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports the Los Angeles Police Department by providing resources to underserved youth and victims of crimes. Julie Mulvey P’17,’21,’26, Founder and President of Watts 2 Boston, introduced the two speakers who live on opposite sides of the country, but share a common bond as religious leaders with a passion for helping others.

Mr. Machuca, originally from Mexico, now resides in Boston where he and his wife, Tania, serve the Hispanic community as missionaries. He shared his journey, beginning with how he discovered God during his childhood and how his faith later impacted his career as a lawyer and ultimately led him to becoming an ordained minister and dedicating his life to preaching the Gospel. Mr. Machuca encouraged the students to never be ashamed of their faith. “Everyone should have the chance to do what makes your eyes shine. Never be embarrassed for who you are or what you do.”

Pastor Hernandez began his speech with a traumatic story from his youth and described what it was like to grow up in Watts, one of the most dangerous places in the U.S., where he lived in poverty and surrounded by violence. He then shared his journey from being a gang member to giving up a successful career to become a pastor. Through his ministry, he serves the community of Watts in so many ways, from providing meals to helping families under threat move out of the projects. Pastor Hernandez closed by reading scripture that has helped him along the way. He challenged the boys to take advantage of the opportunities given to them and “Love God, love others and go out and make a big difference in this world.”                    

Thank you, Mr. Machuca and Pastor Hernandez, for sharing your stories with us and to Mrs. Mulvey for bringing these two men together to inspire our community.

Parents are invited to hear the presentation tomorrow evening, February 17, at 6:30 PM in Ward Hall. All are welcome!