A St. Gertrude parishioner since before the church was built, Julia Asmus remembers going to Sunday Mass at the local mortuary. A few years later future husband Roy came home from World War II, they met, and after an October-to-March, “whirlwind romance,” were married in St. Gertrude Church in 1947. A few years later they adopted two children of nearly the same age, Lorn and Lisa, had both baptized at St. Gertrude, and enrolled them in the school when it opened. Then, upon the advice of future Auxiliary Bishop Thaddeus Shubsda, they enrolled the children in public school where they would have different teachers, to minimize competition between them. But Julia remained a room mother for the school. And after 65 years of married life in the parish, Julia and Roy (both now 93 years young) continue to serve in any way they can. Such generosity is the spirit of the nearly 5,000 registered families at St. Gertrude Church — volunteering as soon as there is a need.“I believe my purpose in life is to serve my fellow man,” says Julia. “If there is a need and I know about it, I want to try to fill it and to be part of it. I think that is my purpose in life.”Over the years she has met many newcomers, helped introduce them to parish life — “and now today they are doing the serving. We are family. We have our differences. We are human. But we are family.”That family spirit clearly resonates with Father Randy Campos, administrator, who grew up not far from Bell Gardens in Holy Family Parish, Artesia, the youngest of nine children.“I feel blessed to be here,” says Father Campos, into his second year at St. Gertrude. “It is a very generous and welcoming church. When there is a need, the people come forward."As the parish continues to grow, Father Campos tries to offer different prayer experiences, and help parishioners minister to each other. “And I want people here to know that I love them,” he says, “and that I want to be the best priest I can be for them. I thank them for their devotion to Our Lord Jesus Christ and to each other. The groups here and various ministries are very fruitful. The people work well together and with each other. They have a strong love of God and community. They help me be a good priest as well.”His work is appreciated by others. “Father Randy is an amazing pastor who is easy to work with and cares deeply about the school’s place in the parish community,” says St. Gertrude School principal Mary Flock. “He believes that the school is a ministry of the parish, not a separate entity, and that type of support makes all the difference. My goal is to get the children to walk the Gospel. Our faith is a journey and we walk it together.”Father Campos is impressed by the strength of his parishioners’ faith. “They are always welcoming and have a deep spirituality,” he observes. The one word best fits his parish? “Hospitality.” Maria Orozco Cota, administrative assistant at St. Gertrude School, has been a parishioner for 50 years, and has worked at the school nearly 20 years. “I feel proud of St. Gertrude and all the good things going on here. I’ve seen changes and growth, and we are still growing. It’s a joy for people coming to school and to church. It’s a joy to work in the school. It’s a family here.”That is because many agree with Julia and Roy Asmus on what makes St. Gertrude special. “My Jesus,” says Julia. “Jesus makes it special.” “I think,” adds Roy, “that the priests and the sisters who we have had here have made it a special place to be.” “The only place to be,” says Julia. {gallery width=100 height=100}gallery/2012/0928/gertrude/{/gallery}