July 3, 2008
By Pablo Jaime Sáinz
Don Oscar Paredes with a picture of wife Cristina.
Doña Cristina Paredes was such an important member of the San Ysidro community, that a month after her death people are still dedicating Mass in her honor at the local Catholic Church.
Even though 73 year old Cristina passed away on May 31 due to lung cancer, her work in support of different social, community, educational, and religious causes will remain present in San Ysidro.
Doña Cristina was born on March 8, 1935, in Tijuana. It was there where, in an event of the Catholic Church, she met her husband, Don Oscar Paredes, with whom she was married for 51 years until her death.
Cristina and Oscar decided to cross the border and settle in San Ysidro 42 years ago. There they formed a beautiful family composed of their three children, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.
“In San Ysidro we were able to raise our children, we were very happy”, said Oscar, who this Sunday turns 78.
Doña Cristina’s life was always dedicated to her family, but she also had the time to help others.
“She was a very responsible lady. She always loved people so much,” said Don Oscar. “She was very sensitive. She was never a hateful person. On the contrary, she was always a caring person with all.”
And Doña Cristina was really a caring person, because her legacy can be seen in different aspects of the San Ysidro community.
“After our own family, San Ysidro and its people were like our second family,” Oscar said.
At the Church
Her central role in the community was through the Our Lady of Mount Carmelo Parish in San Ysidro, where Cristina was a volunteer for decades, helping out at the office and in recent years, with her husband, during Mass.
Cristina was such an important part of Mount Carmelo, that Bishop Gilbert E. Chavez gave part of the Mass during Cristina’s funeral. The Paredes Family developed a strong friendship with the Bishop and his mother when he was a priest in San Ysidro.
“Cristina was a sister who offered so much love to her church,” said Deacon Jose Luis Medina, who met her in 1976.
As part of her work in the Church, Cristina and her husband used to take communion to the sick in their own homes in San Ysidro. Also, in recent years, each Monday Cristina was a volunteer to count the monetary contributions that parishioners hand out each Sunday during Mass.
“Her death is a great loss for our Church and for Christ’s mission, but her love will continue, because we will always remember her”, Medina said.
Cristina began her education career in 1972, when she was hired as a preschool teacher’s aid at the San Ysidro School District. But she, wanting to support even more the education of the children in her community, worked to get her teacher credential and became a certified preschool teacher in 1977. She worked at the Villa Nueva apartment center, which was leased by the school district, and also worked at Willow Elementary School until she retired in 1993.
During the years that Cristina worked as a preschool teacher, San Ysidro was the model for the State of California for the Preschool Program.
Maria Tejeda, who worked with Cristina for more than 10 years in the administration of different schools in San Ysidro, remembers her as one of the most beloved preschool teachers by children and their parents.
“Everybody loved her so much because she had always a smile on her face,” said Tejeda, who now works at the Child Development Center in San Ysidro. “She was a nice lady who was always helping others.”
In addition to her work in the church and the schools, Cristina was also involved for many years in social causes in San Ysidro. She was one of the organizers for Fiestas Patrias and was also a founding member of the San Ysidro Health Center.
“Cristina was a good daughter, a good sister, a good wife and mother, a good grandmother and great-grandmother,” Don Oscar said. “Cristina is right here with me, with her family. She never left. I pray and I have her all around me.”
Rest in peace, Doña Cristina Paredes, a pillar in the community of San Ysidro.