Father Jose Luis Ayala Hernandez

Meet Father Jose! Born in Puerto Rico. Middle child…. Three brothers. Moved to Brooklyn, NY at four years of age. Spanish was spoken in the home, but outside, his parents wanted him to assimilate to his new American home. He laughs and said he was even supposed to “smell American”.


Q: What inspired you or led you to your current career?
A: “I always was a practicing Catholic. It was were I felt at home… normal. I have memories of growing up in the Church. There were many diverse people sharing one faith. Church was normal. I might go to the Synagogue with my Jewish friends on Saturday, but I was in mass on Sunday. I loved the missionary work. I traveled to Guatemala, Jamaica and then to Gwinnett County, Georgia doing missions. That is how I got to Georgia.”


Q: Who is the most interesting person you’ve met here in Habersham County?
A: “Oh, there are so many, I couldn’t name. I guess the most interesting people are the ones that have influenced me, supported me, taught me, or helped me. Those that have helped me in the community outreach.”


Q: What is your favorite restaurant in Habersham County, and what do you love there?
A: “I can’t name one. I like Mexican Food, American Food, Southern Comfort food, and Chinese Food. I love Chinese food.”


Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? And why?
A: “Africa and India…. To do mission work there. I love mission work.”


Q: What is the first movie you remember seeing in a theater?
A: “I know that….. (laughing). It was Walt Disney’s Jungle Book. My dad would say Mundo Movie. My brother was a fan, so we all were (laughing). But my dad has nothing to back up this claim. (Laughing)”


Q: What advice would you give a crowd of people?
A: “Depends…. Nothing really. I like to listen. I love to hear the stories people tell. I love to hear the good and the bad. I love to see God’s work. I just like to listen.”


Q: What is your favorite thing about Habersham County?
A: “EVERYTHING….. You have it all here. Rivers, hiking, restaurants, mountains, movie theater. You really have it all here. Thanks to my parishioners who said, “Father, you have to see… or go….” I found all of these things to do. I love to sit quietly by a body of water. I am not a “one thing” person.”


Q: Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years?
A: “Finished with my doctorate, God willing, and doing mission work outside of the US.”


Q: What is something interesting that most people don’t know about you?
A: “I don’t know. I am always with the youth or young couples. I am drawn to them. I didn’t seek them out. Parents bring their children here for counseling or just to talk. It happens naturally.”


Q: What three words mean “Home” to you?
A: “Summer. Water. Sand.”

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