October 24, 2019  |  By:   |  Press Releases  |  

Auxiliary Bishop Aclan will celebrate Mass at Santa Clara Cemetery on Saturday, Oct. 26 and Archbishop Gomez will celebrate Mass at Calvary Cemetery on Saturday, Nov. 2

The Catholic Cemeteries & Mortuaries in collaboration with the Office of Religious Education of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles are hosting again this year the Día de Los Muertos celebration in Oxnard for the 4th year on Saturday, October 26 and, in East Los Angeles for the 6th year on Saturday, November 2. Both events open their doors at 11:00 a.m. and festivities will begin at noon with an outdoor Mass. Día de los Muertos, an All Souls Day celebration, is a vibrant faith-based tradition, when the life of the deceased is honored and celebrated through songs, prayer and ofrendas (altars).

“Each year our event has grown in the participation of families building altars to honor and represent the lives of their loved ones,” said Brian McMahon, director of Administrative Services of the Catholic Cemeteries Department. “This year, at Santa Clara we have more than 100 families building altars. We have found that this spiritual and cultural event allows our patrons the ability to share and honor the stories of their loved ones’ earthly lives. You can’t help but be moved by the amount of effort, care and detail given to the displays. Personally, I most enjoy hearing the families reminisce with each other as they build their altars together in the preceding days. I believe this is what Día de Los Muertos is truly about. Over these past few years we have seen how it brings families together. Rather than sadness there is a sense of joy and happiness.”

These celebrations will offer a unique opportunity for families to celebrate a Catholic tradition that unites faith, prayer and cultural heritage to honor the faithful departed. The celebration on October 26 at Santa Clara Cemetery in Oxnard (2370 N. H St. 93036) will begin at noon with an outdoor Mass presided by Auxiliary Bishop Alex Aclan for the San Fernando Pastoral Region of the Archdiocese, and the celebration on November 2 at Calvary Cemetery in East L.A. (4201 Whittier Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90023) will begin at noon with a Holy Mass presided by Archbishop José H. Gomez., which will be broadcast live on EWTN. Both events will feature the pilgrim image of Our Lady of Guadalupe; which will be in Calvary Cemetery for the first time this year, and a presentation about the meaning and significance of the celebration commemorating the Feast of All Souls in the Catholic Church. 

These celebrations are free, open to the public, and fun for the entire family. Activities include blessing of traditional altars in honor of the departed, folkloric dancers, Mariachi concert, activities for children, including arts & crafts, calavera (skull) face painting, and a special performance by regional Mexican singer Lupita Infante (granddaughter of the iconic legend Pedro Infante) in Santa Clara Cemetery in Oxnard and Latin Jazz Pop singer, Nancy Sanchez in Calvary Cemetery in East L.A., and Santa Clara Cemetery in Oxnard. Sacred art specialist Lalo Garcia and a group of artists from Southern California will exhibit their art pieces, and a tapetero from Guanajuato, Mexico will create a tapete, art work created from sawdust resembling a rug or runner, featuring the image of St. John Paul II in Santa Clara Cemetery in Oxnard and the image from St. Toribio Romo, protector of immigrants, at Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles.

Every year, communities from different parishes, ministries and groups come together to build altars with a specific message. This year at Santa Clara Cemetery the Office of the Religious Education of the Archdiocese will have an altar in honor of the victims of shootings around the U.S., while at Calvary Cemetery the Hispanic Ministry of St. Charles Borromeo Parish will have an altar in honor of the children who have lost their lives migrating to the U.S., the Salvadoran Community of St. Frances X Cabrini Parish will honor  the memory of St. Oscar Romero, and the Knights of Columbus will honor the fallen veterans.

All are encouraged to bring copies of photos of their departed loved ones to help decorate the large-scale community altar featured at both locations.

“The Day of the Dead is a joyful celebration in many Latin American countries originating in the traditions of our indigenous ancestors. It is a day where we commemorate the lives of our loved ones who passed away. It helps us to reflect on the transcendence of life. Gabriel Marcel, a French Catholic philosopher said, ‘to love someone is to tell the person: you will never die.’ When we love someone, our beloved will live forever. Love penetrates so deeply in the lives of human beings, that when we love separation does not exist even in death. Every act of love gives us a hint of eternity,” said Sister Rosalia Meza, Director of Religious Education for the Archdiocese.

In preparation for the Nov. 2 event, Catholic Cemeteries & Mortuaries will co-present with the Archdiocese’s Office of Religious Education a Día de los Muertos Catechetical Day for local Catholic school students on Wednesday, October 30, from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. More than 350 students from 15 nearby Catholic schools will gather at Calvary Cemetery to learn about the meaning of Día de los Muertos as celebration commemorating the Feast of All Souls in the Catholic Church. 

The students will decorate sugar skulls, picture frames and craft paper flowers, and build a school Día de los Muertos altar with flowers and mementos of loved ones.

Free food samples and refreshments will be provided by local vendors: Chago Tortas Ahogadas, Forneris Farms, La Gloria Restaurant, and Vallarta Supermarkets. Event sponsors include the Anthem BlueCross, Batesville, Catholic Communication Collaboration (C3), Clark & Green Associates, KWHY-22, Metro (MTA), Moskatels, Relevant Radio, Platt Security and Santa Clara Diesel. 

Please find attached bilingual flyers for both events. For more information, please visit www.archla.org/diadelosmuertos.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is the largest Archdiocese in the United States with approximately five million Catholics. For the latest news, events and to subscribe for media alerts visit media.la-archdiocese.org. Follow us using @LACatholics on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Video archives and footage of Masses celebrated by Archbishop José H. Gomez are also available.