When speaking of Latino leaders in the Catholic church of San Juan Bautista, the name of Teresa Zapata is well known.
“I’m a native Puerto Rican from the central town of Adjuntas. At an early age, my family moved to New York City where we stayed for six months, and then, thank God, my mom brought us to this beautiful part of Pennsylvania. I always saw my mother as an example because she taught me to love helping people, expecting nothing in return. I come from a large family of 16 siblings where we learned to share everything equally. All my life, I have always been a Catholic, and I participated in all kinds of activities in my church. Examples of these activities are the choir and Daughters of Mary. I started as a volunteer helping in everything I was asked. There I was serving God and my community,” shares this humble warrior of God.
Her beginnings were with Father Thomas, and she holds a great appreciation for six pastors who are part of the teachings in his life.
“From Father Pistone, I learned how dedicated he is to serve others, and from Father Wolfe, especially in regards to the Latino community, I learned of his charisma, energy and dedication. I see this as a blessing from God,” Zapata says.
Zapata explains that St. John the Baptist is a church that helps the whole community and is the largest church in the Latino community throughout the central region of the state, having so far 2,500 registered families.
“We help provide food to the needy, find them jobs, housing, clothing, furniture and we even provide child care. To manage all these responsibilities is not easy, but thank God I
have great co-workers who also love to help others no matter the day or time, and this makes everything easier.”