California Catholic Daily reporter, Mary Rose, visits a California college each week and asks students about God, good, and evil. Interview with Esmeralda, who is studying nursing, near the Q building at Merritt College in Oakland on March 10, 2020.

Do you consider yourself religious?

Esmeralda: Somewhat. I used to go a lot to church, every Sunday, either in the morning or late, sometimes six. I’m Catholic. I would go most of the time at six because during the weekend it’s always busy, but lately I haven’t gone to church. Sometimes we do other things and then we’re too tired to go, but we are registered to the church. So we do have to go because my mom’s registered and she gets these envelopes every year where you put money and she hasn’t even gone to pick up her envelopes, so I don’t know how that’s going to work out.

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

Esmeralda: Since I was little, my mom taught us to believe in God and go to church and do all these things that represent God, like learning how to pray at night. I guess that’s why. And she just tells us that God made the whole world in I believe seven days, or something like that.

If someone asked you who Jesus is, what would you say?

Esmeralda: God? I believe in God and the Virgin Mary. So I believe there’s only one God, which is Jesus, I guess.

How would you explain the Christian idea of God?

Esmeralda: I wouldn’t really know how to explain it because everyone who I interact with knows about religion and about God, but just some people believe there’s more gods and some don’t believe in the Virgin Mary. So I don’t really see myself explaining to other people what and who Jesus, God is. So I don’t know what I would say. 

What do you mean when you say that you believe in the Virgin Mary?

Esmeralda: So the Virgin Mary is the mother of Jesus. Right? Yeah. She’s the mother of Jesus. So I guess for there to be something, there always has to be a woman. 

How do you decide what’s right and wrong?

Esmeralda: I never really make my decisions based on religion or anything. My mom’s like, “God doesn’t like this and God doesn’t like that.” And I’m like, “I don’t know what to tell you.” Because we’re religious, but we’re not that religious that we make everything about God or God this or God that. It’s not like we use it to define what we do every day. We don’t say, “Oh, God said we have to do this today” or something. It’s not like that. We believe in it, but it’s not like we’re super, super religious, like we go to church every day or we pray and stuff.

How would you decide on something like marriage, where some people say marriage is only between a man and a woman and other people say people shouldn’t judge?

Esmeralda: In the Bible, it says that it’s a man and a woman. But to me, I don’t really care. You get to decide who you love and who you want to be with. I have no problem with that. My parents don’t have a problem with that either. My mom says, “God is going to love anyone.” Like, no matter, he’s going to forgive us at the end of the day. Everything’s going to be forgiven. So it doesn’t really matter. But other people who might be religious, like really religious, they might really get offended by certain people that are gay or something. They’ll probably get mad. But us, and me personally, I don’t see a problem with that. Even though they have said that in the Bible and stuff, but it’s not something that I’m going to be like, “no, that’s wrong because the Bible says it’s wrong.”

Do you believe in an afterlife?

Esmeralda: I do believe in an afterlife. But I don’t know if that’s going to happen.

When you say we all will be forgiven at the end, what do you mean by that?

Esmeralda: I’m guessing a lot of us sin and stuff and my mom’s like, when you die – or you’re dying, or when you’re in a certain situation and now you want to pray to God. Now you want to be forgiven. And I feel like God doesn’t judge. We’re all going to go to Him. Because we’re all people, we all make mistakes. So I guess we all should be forgiven. I mean, I think there’s some stuff that shouldn’t be forgiven, but…

What about people who don’t ask for forgiveness and deliberately do bad things, a school shooter, for example?

Esmeralda: See now those are the people that I would be like, “don’t forgive them.” But I just always hear that at the end we’re all forgiven. We’re all going to go to heaven. We’re all going to rest in peace. I would say don’t forgive those people or people that do bad things, but I can’t say what should happen to them. 

Why do you wear that medal with the Virgin Mary?

Esmeralda: I was given this for my Confirmation. I was baptized. I also did my first Communion. I did the whole Mass for my 15th. And then after my 15th I did my confirmation, I think two years ago or one year ago. And then they gifted me this because I believe Catholics are the only ones who believe in the Virgin Mary. I’m not sure because I’m only Catholic. I don’t really go see what Christians do or what other religions do. I kind of just practice my religion. 

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