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Hero Peace & Bliss Nery Quintela is a true hero who shares her powers of understanding and kindness with everyone she meets. T e x t by S t ephan i e Flei ta s N ery Quintela believes that all you need to live a fulfilling life is the desire to help your community. As St. Agnes Parish Director of Religious Education she sits in her office at her Key Biscayne residence, always portraying a sense of conviction and earnestness. “When I moved to Key Biscayne my life did a complete 180-degree turn,” she says. “That’s why this place is so special to me.” As soon as Quintela and her family moved to Key Biscayne in 1991, they enrolled in St. Agnes Parish. There, she was approached by Choir Director Nora Mora. This was Quintela’s launching point. After joining the choir, she began attending spiritual retreats, reading religious books and began learning about “a kind and merciful God.” She realized that being involved with faith and religion “is not about memorizing stuff about church and doctrine, but really understanding the love that went into creating things and understanding the message of God.” In 2000, Pastor Hernando of St. Agnes Parish approached Quintela while she was working with the Arch Dioceses of Miami. He offered her a position as the Director of Religious Education. Quintela was caught completely off guard by the offer. It took her 3 months to deliberate the change because she was not confident in her ability to teach the faith to 40 others. After what she calls an “epiphany,” she decided to take on the rewarding roll. Currently, her job duties revolve around public relations and marketing for events at the Parish, organizing 4 spiritual retreats per year for 8th Graders preparing for the sacrament of Confirmation and 1st Graders preparing for their first Holy Communion at the parochial school. She also oversees the CCD (Co-Fraternity Christian Doctrine) Program that holds classes every week on Wednesdays and Sundays during the school year for children who do not receive religious education in their own schools. Additionally, with a Master’s Degree in Marriage & Family Therapy as well as Genetics, she holds free therapy sessions for families in Key Biscayne who are seeking guidance to mend their relationships. “Compassion and humility are basic in humanity, not just in Christianity,” she says. “This helps me understand people more and love more.” “Although we live in a family community,” says Quintela, “it’s not easy to get people involved all of the time…also when children have so much it’s really hard to stimulate them and motivate them with the love of God.” This truth, however, does not discourage her from the mission at hand. “We need to transform our inner selves into people who want respect, love and understanding.”