By MICHAEL ALEXANDER | Published January 21, 2021
ATLANTA—Nearly 12 years have gone by since I photographed Gina Parnaby with her daughter Elizabeth. We met earlier this month, for a socially-distanced photo session, in the chapel at Marist School, Atlanta, where Gina is the chair of the English department.
The last time I captured the pair together, a six-month-old Elizabeth was sitting on her mother’s lap during the Jan. 22, 2009 Mass for the Unborn. In those days the annual Mass was held at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Atlanta. Gina, who was a Marist teacher at the time, was also expecting her second child. On June 29, the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, she gave birth to William. In November 2013, Gina had her third child, another girl, whom they named Molly.
Today Elizabeth is a seventh-grader at Village Montessori School, Roswell, which she attends with her two siblings. Elizabeth’s favorite classes are science and economics. In her spare time at home she likes to cook and bake with her mom, and occasionally with her brother. She enjoys cooking chili and pasta and baking cakes.
Another pastime for Elizabeth, William and Molly is dance. They take classes at the Roswell Dance Theater. Elizabeth participates in ballet, contemporary and jazz dance. In addition to her classes, Elizabeth helps to instruct the younger dance students. Elizabeth said she hopes to be a professional dancer or teacher when she grows up.
Prior to the pandemic, the kids attended Sunday school classes at Epiphany of Our Lord Byzantine Catholic Church, Roswell, where Gina also taught. William was an altar server and Elizabeth helped out with hospitality and sacristan duties. They’re still doing Sunday school from home, but everything else is discontinued for the moment.
One of the lessons Gina tries to instill in her children is the importance of living your values.
“Our presence at the 2009 Mass for the Unborn was Elizabeth’s first participation in witness to life,” said Gina.
They’ve supported other efforts to promote life over the years. In the summer of 2020, they attended marches and rallies for racial justice in Atlanta and Roswell.
“If you want your kids to stand up for the dignity of other people, you have to show them how it’s done,” said Gina.
I asked Elizabeth what she has learned in her youth from her mother and from her relationship with God that has helped her in life. With a tone of assurance, she responded, “Make a horseshoe and not a circle, so you include people and not block them out.”
Then & NOW is an occasional series appearing in The Georgia Bulletin. The series features people who were captured in a published newspaper photograph 10 or more years ago, along with updated news about them.