Juan and Christen Reyes: The Bridge Builders

Christen and Juan Reyes
Christen and Juan Reyes

Juan and Christen Reyes live out their faith and openness to different cultures with their marriage and actions in the parish community. 

The couple first met in Spanish class at the University of Central Arkansas. Christen, previously active in Christian ministry and played drums in the worship band, attended RCIA twice at St. Joseph Church in Conway with Juan.

“We had to really delve into our faith together and figure out what we really believed and why. That brought us closer together,” she said.

Juan, 27, originally from Mexico, is a cradle Catholic. While their interracial relationship and then marriage in 2017 has gotten “weird stares,” Juan said, “We’ve always used that as fuel.”

Christen, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and master’s degree in teaching, teaches Spanish at St. Joseph High School.

“It’s one way to help (students) bridge cultures and bridge community and understand new perspectives,” the 25-year-old said.

Juan, who earned a bachelor’s in health care administration and then a nursing degree, now works as a critical care nurse.

“When I go to work, one minute the patient could be circling the drain and the next they are miraculously better,” he said. “It just gives me goosebumps sometimes witnessing that before my eyes, to see what God is capable of doing.”

The couple are involved in the St. Joseph Hispanic community through friendships, attending Spanish Masses and being a bridge for Anglos. For the Our Lady of Guadalupe celebration, Christen translated apparition stories into English.

“It’s a pro-life issue honestly, being open to fighting for the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ … We are a part of the Universal Church and that needs to be celebrated,” she said.

Aprille Hanson Spivey

Aprille Hanson Spivey has contributed to Arkansas Catholic as a freelancer and associate editor since 2010. She leads the Beacon of Hope grief ministry at St. Joseph Church in Conway.

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