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Mary Cottingham

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South Texas Catholic

ince he became a single parent thirteen years ago, Paul Jimenez has always put his children’s needs before his own. He makes sure his children are happy, safe, well fed, protected and well educated. His daughter, Lydia, now a junior and his son, Paul, currently a freshman have been attending Incarnate Word Academy since they were able to go to school. Jimenez is the only maintenance person at IWA. He wears many different hats for the various jobs he does at the five-building complex. He is the plumber, electrician, painter and the general fixer-upper of any small repairs. Years ago, when good custodians were hard to find, he and his kids spent many a late night sweeping, mopping and cleaning the buildings. Since he began working at the school in 1986, the sisters from the convent and schools gave him the opportunity to start at the bottom. “I would take things apart and put them back together. It was fantastic they let me do that, and after so many years it’s like I know it like the back of my hand,” he said. Sister Annette Wagner, Superior General of the Incarnate Word and Blessed Sacrament said Jiminez “has been a hard worker and an amazing parent. He’s very attentive and is very focused on family. His kids were always with him, even during the summer months. All the employees who work for IWA get tuition assistance, but Jimenez’ long hours, working weekends and nights have made it affordable to send his children to a Catholic school. The spirit of the sisters and the school staff was like an extended family to them. “The sisters have been so great to me, and I got to show it. Other than being here

that’s all I can do, and I do my best. I’m so grateful that God let me send my kids to school here,” he said. Jimenez says his faith gets him up every day. Born and raised in Aransas Pass, his parents instilled in him and his ten brothers and sisters strong Catholic values. His mother used to tell him, “God comes first.” He attributes his current relationship with God to his mother, “she taught me that whatever God’s choice is for us we just have to abide by that.” He said one of the hardest things for him was bringing the kids to work with him every summer. “I felt bad for them. I didn’t have a place to take them, and I couldn’t afford daycare or babysitters. I was afraid to let them loose on the playground because I might be too far away if something were to happen to them.” “I’ve told them several times, that going to school here is one of the greatest opportunities in their life. College is going to be much easier, and your goals will be easier to reach–because of the education that you have, but you got to take advantage of it. It only sinks in so much, and then I’ll repeat it at the beginning of next year, Jimenez said. “I would love for them to go to college. I want them to pursue something they love.” Jimenez said his son Paul is a typical boy. He’d rather be around dad than anybody else. He’s very quiet and laid back.” Paul says he likes to focus on relaxing. He wants to go to school to become a game designer. “Lydia is very outgoing; she is in the school choir. She is sensitive and sings beautifully. She writes her own music and teaches herself how to play the piano and guitar,” Jimenez said. “He works so hard and so long to provide us with an education. Sometimes he

gets home at 8 or 9 p.m. For a single parent raising two kids in high school, it’s very difficult, but he always finds a way to make it work,” Lydia said. Lydia wants to become a nurse. When the children were younger, Jimenez said a regular day for him consisted of getting them up in the morning, making breakfast, then getting them ready for school. When the children would go to school, he would go to work at the school. After they got out of school they would come to where he was working, do their homework or sometimes help clean until he finished his work–sometimes 8 or 9 p.m. Afterwards they would go home, he’d cook, clean up and help them with their homework, get them ready for bed and continue the same routine every day. Malcolm Smith, Director of Campus Operations for IWA says Jiminez is great for the school. “He’s the head maintenance person. There’s not much that he can’t repair: the air conditioner; the lights; anything that goes wrong it falls on him. He checks the buildings every night to make sure the lights are turned off, and the doors are locked. On Saturday nights he normally goes to evening Mass at St. Patrick with the kids, then checks the buildings afterward. Between the work at the school and his kiddos he’s definitely a busy man,” Smith said. “I used to fish all the time, play sports with my brothers and friends, but when my kids came–you cant’ have time for yourself, you have to make that commitment when you’re a parent. My kids come first,” Jimenez said. On his own, Jimenez, couldn’t have afforded a Catholic Education for his children, on the other hand, he said, “it was something he couldn’t–not afford.” Luckily he didn’t have to. June 2018 |  South Texas Catholic  11

†† CATHOLIC EDUCATION

Single father raises children in Catholic School

Profile for South Texas Catholic

June 2018 - Vol.53 No.6  

In our June issue, we feature Nick and Oralia Cardenas, longtime parishioners from Our Lady of Victory in Beeville, who have dedicated 24 ye...

June 2018 - Vol.53 No.6  

In our June issue, we feature Nick and Oralia Cardenas, longtime parishioners from Our Lady of Victory in Beeville, who have dedicated 24 ye...

Profile for diocesecc