By the world’s standards, Cristofer Pereyra was doing well. He’d emigrated from Peru at age 15, graduated from college and landed a good job, working as a reporter at Channel 33, the Phoenix affiliate of Univision, the Spanish-language television network.
“I was a cradle Catholic, but not really practicing,” Pereyra said. “My priorities were not in order, but I tried to keep a personal relationship with Jesus.”
That relationship with Christ was something he discovered growing up in Peru, when a girl invited him to her Protestant church where he also heard the standard objections to Catholicism. The experience left him with lurking doubts.
Later on in Phoenix, when he decided to marry, he was drawn again to the Catholic faith.
“I wanted to get married in the Catholic Church because I knew those weddings were just beautiful,” Pereyra said. “It wasn’t an understanding of the sacrament. We were drawn to the beauty.”
The marriage preparation program proved to be a turning point. At first he and his fiancé were shocked that there was so much involved. “It was worth it,” Pereyra said. “Our understanding of the faith and of the commitment — everything just got bigger. Even the little doubts that I had about the Catholic Church, all those wrinkles were ironed out.”
The path wasn’t always easy. When the couple returned from their honeymoon, they encountered some challenges that took them by surprise.
“There were some really hard times that made me understand how much I depended on God,” Pereyra said. “I could make all the plans in the world, and save money and all of that, but it doesn’t really matter. It’s all what He wants. So I need to align what I want with what He wants, otherwise I’m in trouble.”
A couple of years ago, when Dan Brown’s “Da Vinci Code” focused attention — albeit negative — on Opus Dei, Pereyra, by then a father of four with his own insurance agency, became curious about the organization. The reporter in him investigated. What he found was a group of people devoted to personal holiness.
“It’s all people who are serious about becoming saints,” Pereyra said. “You have to have a plan if you want to be holy — it doesn’t just happen.”
Daily rosary, monthly confession, daily Mass, regular adoration — these are all part of that plan to grow in holiness, Pereyra said. All of that set him on a path, seeking God’s will.
Last January, that path led him to a volunteer position at En Familia Radio 740 AM, a Spanish-language Catholic radio station in Phoenix. Monday through Friday, Pereyra hosts an hour-long, fast-paced talk show in which he reads and comments on news for the Catholic world and interviews several guests. The work is part of living out his call to holiness and his mission from God to be part of the New Evangelization, he said.
So is the radio station a way to teach apologetics to local Spanish-speakers in a bid to ward off proselytizing?
“Apologetics is important because we need to know the faith, but sometimes people use apologetics the wrong way,” Pereyra said. He’s directing his efforts instead toward encouraging personal conversion, not just in the Phoenix market, but nationwide.
“I think En Familia — we want to go the whole country eventually and be online, maybe even TV. That’s exactly the way to go — the New Evangelization,” Pereyra said.
Year of Faith:
I’m 100 percent sure that I am in the Church that was founded by Jesus Christ. The truth is here and has always been here. It hasn’t changed and it doesn’t mutate because of what’s fashionable.
St. Catherine of Siena
En Familia Radio, Opus Dei
Nobody converts because they lost an argument with you. They convert because they see the example that you are living. You can talk all day long, and maybe prove them wrong, but they’ll just be upset — they won’t convert. They will convert when they see you living a holy life.