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City Spotlight

City Spotlight Vol 3 – Dedication and Devotion: Brother Jeremy of Hill Valley Church

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City Spotlight is a collection of interviews with the everyday people of Los Santos and the surrounding areas. Each one is a heart-to-heart with the people of the city, where they share their stories and some words of wisdom.

In this City spotlight, I chatted with a lovely man called Jeremy Barbant. Some of you may know him as Brother Jeremy, but if not, take a trip down to the Hill Valley Church in Morningwood, and I’m sure he will be happy to show you around the beautiful grounds they look after! Jeremy was a ray of sunshine when we met, and the embodiment of holiness; Holiness – is “to be dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose.” Jeremy showed nothing but dedication to the church and the community it caters to.

Hill Valley Church (Photo credit: George Mallard)

Let’s Get To God’s Work!

As I arrived at Hill Valley Church, I noticed how beautiful and well-kept the grounds looked. Brother Jeremy and I made our way inside, where there were obvious renovations needed. The church pews were uneven, a large portion of the skirting around the walls was off by a few inches, and most noticeably, the large cross on the back wall was completely off-center. We spoke about the work he wanted to do there, and I wondered if there was a fundraiser in place so the community could help with the costs of fixing up the place. However, I am sure if you wanted to pop in a donation to the church, it would be greatly appreciated!

Brother Jeremy in front of the very off-center Cross (Photo credit: George Mallard)

A Safe Space

As a Liberty City native, Jeremy grew up in a very wealthy household. “My family was really focused on material and wealth, but the only time I kinda got away from that was when we went to church on Sundays.” He told me about his grandmother; he spoke very highly of her and always felt more himself sitting next to her in church. He had found his safe space. The church gave him a feeling he could not find anywhere else, something more than material things. He then went to college and university, achieving his goals of getting his Master’s and Doctorate in Catholic Theology, and gained valuable experience in a convent in New Jersey. After six years, he was assigned his role at the Hill Valley Church in San Andreas.

The city skyline behind the beautiful church grounds. (Photo credit: George Mallard)

Heart Of The Church

As Brother Jeremy showed me around the grounds, we spoke about how he managed to keep it looking so good with its vastness. They have 5 or 6 groundskeepers who work to keep the area looking perfect, clearly showing a place the community cares for. He went on to tell me they have ledgers for every gravestone in the lot and that he will ensure all the graves are clean and looked after, which I’m sure the families really appreciate. My team was also challenged to guess how many gravestones there are… let me say my guessing skills are way off; I thought maybe 175. Turns out it’s over 540 Graves. All of which are lovingly taken care of by the church.

The sun shining down on the gravestones. (Photo credit: George Mallard)

Keep Calm And Trust God

We got onto how he spends his time when not working hard at the church. He told me all about how he is also an educator at the university, spreading his love for God by teaching religious studies. A position that captures his passion for the community and teaching people. He also really enjoys going fishing in his off time. “I love fishing; I find it very meditative and relaxing.” I am sure he needs it, seeing as his day job is working with people in their worst times, running Styx Funeral Service.

Brother Jeremy watching over the church (Photo credit: George Mallard)

Never Truly Gone

I was curious how he mentally handled that and being around death so often. “I go with the book of Matthew, which says, Those who mourn shall be comforted.” He explained that people need that shoulder to hold on to, or they can get lost. Grieving is a hard time for anyone, but knowing you have people around you who care and can take the stress of planning a funeral is helpful, and he clearly gets a lot of joy from what he does. Brother Jeremy was a delight to chat with and see a person with such a pure heart who wants to help. With his kind smile and welcoming nature, he has definitely found his path, one of God.

Ella Woods getting to know Brother Jeremy (Photo credit: George Mallard)

Words of Wisdom

“ I would use the words of Saint Thomas Aquinas – The true definition of love is to will the good of the other.”

-Brother jeremy Barbant

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