By Giuliana Maola
Giuliana: Could you touch on your upbringing briefly? Did any family or friends push you to create? Are you from a family of artists?
Judith: I would say yes that I come from a family from artists. My grandfather, Ignacio Parra, was a singer and played the guitar and a Mexican instrument similar to a small guitar called a requinto. He was able to sing a capella and his voice echoed and roared with strength. I remember watching and admiring my grandfather singing in the church choir it seemed as if his voice carried through the large church of St. Rose of Lima.
My grandfather knew how to paint, draw, tell jokes, and knew how to do woodwork. His family is talented with singing, playing instruments, in drama, and dance. My grandfather taught me how to print legibly, handwrite, and calligraphy. He enjoyed the art of letter writing very much. My grandmother Rita Parra was a burst of energy, laughter, and service. Grandmother’s side of the family also were singers, dancers, played classical instruments, acted in plays and knew how to make an abundance of crafts and projects. They were the biggest and best influence in my life next to my mother.
What major are you studying?
My major is in Communications Media with emphasis in New Evangelization. I am also completing a minor in Business.
Could you tell us how you got to JPCatholic?
I am a real estate broker and for many years my heart felt that I was not doing what naturally came to me, which is to help people. Although in my career I have an opportunity to help people, there was something missing. During prayer time I would ask the Lord to let me know how I could best serve him. I would say, “Lord use me however you want to help your people and to help heal your people.”
As time went by, my heart began to move towards helping others and healing humanity as an instrument of God. One day I heard it… I heard the Lord say that I needed to go back to school and study theology. I didn’t know where or how that would look. I knew that my education needed to have a Catholic foundation. Yet, the question went unanswered for quite some time.
I discerned for two years before I went to an Elevate Conference… I was at the conference discerning and actively looking for an answer. I started walking around the vendor tables and then I saw it! I laughed and I said “Okay Lord! I get it!” It was an information table set up for John Paul the Great Catholic University. I literally felt the choir of angels singing. It is silly, but that moment for me was beautiful. I felt the answer was put right in front of me. I could do nothing but smile and get teary eyed and felt the Lord’s presence. My sister looked at me as if I was crazy to consider school so far from Los Angeles.
No one truly gets it. They usually say, “Why would you want to go to school so far away?” No one understands my love for God and my heart’s desire to truly serve my creator. I just feel that this is where I belong. I don’t know yet how it is going to turn out. All I know is that I am here to learn and prepare for what the Lord has in store for me.
Does JPCatholic allow your creativity to flourish or inspire you in any way?
Attending university at JPCatholic has been like a dream come true. I am studying many subjects that will better my life as I learn how to better humanity through Christ and for Christ.
Sometimes the subject matter is challenging but I suppose that this is what learning is about. It’s twisting of the brain to think better and reason better. I feel very supported and inspired, as well as guided to be creative and encouraged to create. Even though sometimes I think “Wow! Did I really write that or create that?” It is a blessing to discover abilities that I never knew I had. I am inspired by the younger students and grateful that I can attend a university of young people that love God, respect each other, and encourage one another.
Which professor do you feel influences you or pushes you to be more creative, whether that be in your usual art form, or in a new way?
I would say that the professor that encourages me the most and is wonderful in inspiring me is Professor Christopher Riley. I am grateful for him and all my professors. There is a humble way about Professor Riley. He is smart, kind, encouraging, and compassionate. I’m sure he hears a lot of stories, including mine, and he always comes off encouraging me and others. He expects the best of you only because it’s important to better one-self expecting the best of oneself.
What inspires you to create in general? What or whom inspired you to create this particular piece in your art form?
When I write a poem or write a book it has always been a sudden situation, a past experience, or something I see in others. But more than that, it is a pouring out of words quickly that somehow make sense. My poem Woman in the Mirror was written during a time in my life of great heartache, ending my marriage to the man that I thought I had for the rest of my life. It ended with a lot of pain and deceit.
I was searching and wandering in a desert of hurt. One day, I was invited to a meeting of women who were volunteers and believed in bettering the lives of women and girls. I left inspired and hopeful towards a wonderful future in which I could also make a difference for women and girls. This was my inspiration it truly marked my understanding of something greater. I felt hopeful, inspired and enlightened. I wrote the poem in about five minutes. I was pleased with the project and knew that it was God’s hand in it and that this was a message for me and many others that needed to heal or be inspired to know that we are more than what we see ourselves to be.
What does this particular piece of art, your poem Woman in the Mirror, mean to you?
This piece of art, my poem brings forth inspiration and hope to me, others that I read it to, or share it with. This poem is now used in our club, Soroptimist International of Downey, as part of the new membership installation ceremony. I have three other local clubs that have used it for an inspirational message or to complete their new membership installation as well. It is women inspiring other women. So, in the part of the poem where it says “She took a step forward”, before we read the other line we hand them a bouquet of flowers and ask the new member to step forward. Then we read, “and like magic she stepped into all of her splendor. All that she truly is. All that she has truly always been.” Gratefully, everyone seems to enjoy this piece of art.
Why do you think it’s important to create art? Why do you think it’s important to share art?
I believe that creating art is as important as breathing or living a rich fulfilled life. To be rich and fulfilled comes in different ways. I am not so much referring to money. Since all creation comes from our Creator, what better way to directly or indirectly honor God. Indirectly, I would say, for those who do not know God. All creation in art comes from the Creator. To create what is inspired is also an expression of the Creator. A work of art can have one meaning and for someone else bring inspiration, beauty, and truth of joy to someone else. There is something spiritual definitely in a work of art.
If you understand that what has been created came from nothing into something, and hold on to that thought for a moment, go into gratitude and stay there, and then smile, it will open up the beauty and understanding of creation. I see it as a little gift from God. For example, I cannot sing. So, when I hear someone singing and it is beautiful to my ears I smile and feel inspired and think how beautiful and how blessed that person is to have such a beautiful voice. Our Creator is creating through that individual.
Sharing your art is important. Someone else may see something different feel love, joy, see beauty, and sometimes horror. Inspiring others to use their senses is also a movement through a medium for the spirit within us all. But to inspire someone to also create or live a better life in truth is the most beautiful way to serve and impact humanity.
Do you have any future art projects you would like to create?
I would really like to create professional scripts and finish some of my books. I am working on an idea for a series of books on moral principles for children that are Christian-based and easy to read. I want the children not just to read a book on moral principles. I want them to explore beautiful storytelling with an inspiration in each short story that will show them how important they are, the difference even a little one makes, and how loved they are by their parents and Father in heaven.
What are some of your other hobbies?
I enjoy camping with my husband and family and going to the river. I just learned how to ride a motorcycle and look forward to taking my Harley Davidson out soon. Before school, I loved reading and still do but now it’s more for homework than enjoyment. I volunteer as a counselor advocate once a week for the Los Angeles Suicide and Battery Hotline. I am now the new president for our women’s group Soroptimist International of Downey 2019-2020. I love spending time with family and all of my nieces and nephews. Especially with my kids- my son Christian and my step-daughter Vanessa.
Do you have any on-going projects happening now that you would like to share?
My other book project is as a Certified Counselor Advocate for Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Victims/Survivors. I want to create a book, workshops, and study book series that will begin the journey to make victims to survivors and then to thrive in their lives. Survivors tend to live their lives in surviving mode and have difficulties releasing fears so that they again truly thrive in their lives once more. I love humanity and I believe that if we all knew how amazing we are and that God is a God of truth and beauty that we can help these people suffering in silence, to live better productive lives.
Click here to read Judy’s poem, Woman in the Mirror.