Director of Communications
Two things were staples in Marie Coronel’s home when she was growing up: Catholicism and rooting for the San Diego Padres. You could make the argument that one is an extension of the other, but regardless, they both remain integral parts of her life. Admittedly, though, the practice of faith took precedence, guiding Marie as she pursued a career as a broadcast journalist. More importantly, it served as her foundation through her father’s diagnosis with a rare progressive neurological disorder, as well as her own medical crisis. Marie joined me recently on “Christopher Closeup” to discuss her life and faith. As the daughter of Filipino Americans, Marie grew up in a home where the Catholic faith was as integral to life as eating and drinking. Her father was an usher at their church and a member of the Knights of Columbus and Holy Name Society. He always made sure the family got to Mass on time, and he encouraged his shy daughter to be a lector at her Catholic school’s Masses. In addition, San Diego Padres games, either on TV or the radio, served as the soundtrack in their home. Father and daughter would always enjoy them together.
When Marie left home to attend college, it was the first time she was truly on her own with the freedom to make her own decisions. She recalled, ”It was up to me to decide, ‘Hey, are you gonna get up early Sunday morning and go to Mass? Are you gonna make sure you’re there for the holy day of obligation?’ And shockingly – I think it was just because I was raised in that – the choice was pretty easy. I knew I had to go. I credit my parents because if they didn’t instill that foundation in me, I don’t know if I would’ve been, as a college kid, 18 years old, spending [my] Sundays at church…And being Filipino has helped in terms of keeping my faith alive.”
Marie’s early days in broadcast news took her far from San Diego, so she followed Padres games from afar to give her a taste of home. After several years, she was grateful to land a job at ABC 10 News back in her hometown. Life continued on the upswing when Marie met the man she would marry. But her joy came to be intermingled with sorrow when her father was diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy, a neurological disorder that “affects body movements, walking and balance, and eye movement.”
Doctors didn’t think Marie’s father would live to see her wedding, which was just two months away. Mr. Coronel, however, had other plans. She said, ”My dad…was a fighter, and there was nothing that was going to stop him from being there for his daughter’s wedding. But a big part of that, again, he relied on his faith…Then, after that, they didn’t know if he was going to meet his first grandchild. Eventually at the end of this, he met all three of his grandsons.”
During this time, Marie juggled her career and her own growing family, with being a caregiver for her father. She admitted it was a lot to deal with physically, mentally, and emotionally. But again, she turned to the lessons she had learned in childhood and relied on her faith for strength.
What she had endured so far, however, was nothing compared to what was to come when a tree fell on her and broke her neck. That part of the story in my next column.
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