East Los Angeles College: perspective from a Catholic youth leader

Student explains that everyone will get to Heaven, and why we need a new chapter in the Bible

Interview with Ramiro Cervantes, who is studying history at East Los Angeles College, took place outside Bailey Library.

California Catholic Daily: Do you consider yourself religious?

Ramiro: Yes. I’m actually a youth leader at my local church, St. Mary’s in Boyle Heights, and I play a big role. I plan events. We have a big event this coming April 21 for Easter at the Hollenbeck Park and 200 families are going to be coming, hopefully. I’m not sure if it’s on Easter itself. We’re actually just trying to get more people involved in the community and to come together as a community. That’s essentially what we’re trying to get to. We are trying to give them a little bit of religion in there, but the community tends to respond more to like, oh, let’s all get together, let’s take pictures with the Easter Bunny, let’s do the Easter Egg hunt. I’m going to be the Easter Bunny!

If an atheist asked you why you believe in God, what would you say?

Ramiro: I believe in a higher being. God is here and everywhere, but I do respect your opinion and what you believe in.

Do you see evidence for the existence of God?

Ramiro: I do. There’s a bunch of things. There’s a mantle, where is it – in the Roman Catholic Church – I forget where – but they have this mantle and in the mantle they have a picture of the Virgin Mary. But the thing is, it’s not on the mantle, if you put it under a microscope. I’m just like, how is it not on there? They have still haven’t figured it out. Whether it’s science-based or religion-based, I still believe there’s a higher being there. It could be science, who knows, but until then, I’m still gonna believe that.

Students in front of the ELAC Technology Center (image: Mary Rose/California Catholic Daily)

What do you think about Pope Francis?

Ramiro: Oh, my God. Pope Francis. Honestly, he’s really down to earth. He’s more connected with the youth. He really wants to get everything out there. He just opens up so much. That’s what I feel about him.

Most self-identified Catholic students I talk to have never heard of him. Why do you think that is?

Ramiro: See, I’m not just Catholic. I’m a Salesian Catholic, which works with youth, which is why I’m always like, yeah! Very energetic, trying to work with youth. Honestly, right now, it’s the youth who are going to be the future, right? We need to help the youth. We need to focus on them so we can build a better future not just for us, but for everyone else.

When you work with the youth, how do explain the Church’s moral teachings? Abortion, for example?

Ramiro: Abortion? Simple. We tell them, hey, this is what the Church believes, but there are other things out there. We don’t just say, stick to the Church. We don’t shove religion down their throat. We tell them, look, the Church doesn’t believe in abortion, but there might be situations where say, someone gets raped, what do you do then? See, that’s when it gets interesting, kids get talking, start trying to figure out what they’d do. The point is to get them talking and seeing that there are all these options out there. It’s not always going to be just the Church, just the Church, just the Church. Just kind of see everything. It’s more of: understand what’s going on in the community and the world, and then make your choice.

Do you think the Church is wrong to prohibit all abortions?

Ramiro: I personally think that everything has the right path and the wrong path, but no one has the right to say this is the right path. The person gets to decide what the right path is. Whether people say that the Church is wrong, I can’t really decide. For me, it’s a tricky situation. That’s one of those things where I don’t know whether to go left or right. But, like I said, it all depends on the situation of the person and what they believe.

Ramiro Cervantes is studying history at East Los Angeles College. (image: Mary Rose/California Catholic Daily)

Do you think abortion should be against the law?

Ramiro: I don’t think it should be against the law to get an abortion, because then you’d take away the right for the person that really affects the world. I mean, we have had times where the government and religion come together and look where that got us: nowhere. We had to split religion and politics so we could have a better world. If we ban abortion, we’re taking a step back and we’re practically like combining once again. I don’t think we should take away the right of having abortion. People should have the right to do what they want.

Do you think it is morally right for people to be able to have an abortion?

Ramiro: If they believe in that. You have option A or B, two options.

If people want to drive drunk, do you think they should be legally allowed to?

Ramiro: Normally, when you’re harming someone, or you have a possibility of harming someone, it’s pretty bad. That’s why we have these laws to try not to harm people, or persons, or human beings. And I do believe a fetus is a human being and it’s alive, but at the same time, you know, I’m not the one carrying the baby. I wouldn’t know how that feels. If a female would give me a perspective, I still wouldn’t know how that feels, because I’m never going to have that. I’m a male. It’s a really tough conversation.

What about gay marriage?

Ramiro: I honestly don’t believe that a man should be with a man or a woman with a woman, but you know what? Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion and their own beliefs. That’s what the will is. You have the right to do whatever you want. I mostly think of the Bible as just something like a textbook. You go off the textbook, but you create your own opinion. You know what I’m saying? Like, yeah, this is really powerful information and stuff that can really help you out, but, at the same time, you have other information. Society’s point of view, you have neighbors, friends, everyone’s point of view and you have to decide whether it’s right or wrong.

What do you believe about the afterlife?

Ramiro: I believe we all just go up in heaven. Everyone will go to heaven. Yeah, we all do bad things, but we all have to pay for that at some point, too. And the only one who’s truly going to be judging is the Man Upstairs.

What do you think God bases his judgments on? Why did He give us the Bible?

Ramiro: That’s just the guide. And the Bible, while it is a guide, society does tend to change, as well. The Bible is just the Old and the New Testament, but, if it were up to me, I would think that we would need another chapter, because we are evolving as human beings, as Catholics, as a society. We just need to start evolving with the world.

A California Catholic Daily exclusive by Mary Rose.




  1. April 21 is Easter Sunday in 2019. This ‘youth leader’ has the big job of being the Easter Bunny. ????

    • We don’t know if 4/21 is Easter, but we do know we are having a picnic that day.

      This is such a depressing article. I feel badly for this young man because somewhere along the way, the church failed in its catechesis. Unfortunately, he is perpetuating the cycle, what more with falsehoods and half-truths. He sounds more afraid of offending his fellow man than his creator. I think deep down in side he knows what is coming out of his mouth is nonsense, but he is surrounded by relativism and humanism. Need to pray for our youth–and also the religious education leaders.

      • Keith w Petersen says

        I agree. I found the responses alarming and depressing. But, soft soil only in need of a a Faithful care. I hope he finds it.

      • That’s rigth. He doesn’t know the True. We have to Pray for this young Man. He will teach nonsense things to others. How can a blind guide another blind. Moreover; God’s word never chance is current, the Bible tell us.

  2. If that represents what Catholic youth are getting from parishes, no wonder they reject it. The message amounts to this: it doesn’t matter what you believe nor what you do, nobody has the right to tell anyone anything different from what they believe, and everyone goes to heaven so nothing you believe or do matters anyway. So then what’s the point of the church? Exactly. And youth are drawing that conclusion and staying away. So they have to have the Easter Bunny to try to get people to join the community. So pathetic.

  3. Clinton R. says

    This is a “Catholic” youth leader? The Easter Bunny?!!! Really?? Thanks again to over 50 years of poor and non existent catechesis. Apparently Catholicism is all about your opinion and how you feel. Terrible, just terrible. I feel bad for this young man and for so many that have never been properly been taught the Catholic faith.

  4. “Leave them; they are blind guides. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit.” (Matthew 15:14)

  5. Anonymous says

    Oh, how sad!! The Easter Bunny?? The Resurrection of Christ– the holiest day on the entire Church calendar?

  6. Michael Faber says

    The USCCB really needs to get involved and at least provide some minimum theological adult education requirements before dubbing young people “youth group leaders” this guy could use the STEP core catholic course available on line through Notre Dame which our bishop requires of all RCIA Catechists.

  7. Facepalm

  8. From where I am, this kid as a “youth leader” is an out-lier. The kids his age that I know personally (I know it’s not everywhere, but it is where I am) are orthodox and very willing to tell the truth. They do it in a very ‘millennia’ way that speaks to other kids their age. This kid would stick out like a sore thumb in the college age groups that I’m aware of.

  9. Danijela Brekalo says

    This is a perfect example of what happens when Catholic priests “delegate” their teaching duties to “lay ministers” and “youth ministers” and all types of “ministers” who are clueless or confused or completely indoctrinated by secularism. Once the Church “opened up to modern world” and basically destroyed orders of nuns who throughout centuries thought generations of Catholics true faith, the doors were open to mass confusion, mass secular indoctrination and destruction of everything true an meaningful. “Community” reigns. Sacraments are so old fashioned and uninteresting. Bring in the Easter Bunny.
    It would be funny if it was not so very tragic. People are perishing for he want of true teaching. And, NO, we are not all going…

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