November 2, 2020  |  By:   |  Press Releases  |  

The Catholic Cemeteries & Mortuaries, in collaboration with the Office of Religious Education of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, this evening hosted a Día de Los Muertos celebration in East Los Angeles for the 7th consecutive year, with a virtual Prayer Service led by Archbishop José H. Gomez in the outdoor courtyard of the Mausoleum of Calvary Cemetery and Mortuary in East Los Angeles. 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). This year the celebration was closed to the public due the pandemic restrictions and livestreamed at

“This year, as we know, we celebrate this beautiful feast of hope in a time of heavy sorrow. And tonight, we remember all those whose lives have been lost in these long, dark months of the coronavirus pandemic,” said Archbishop Gomez during the bilingual prayer service (full homily is attached). “We pray for their souls, that God may grant them rest and let his light shine upon them. We pray tonight for their families and loved ones. May God comfort them and grant them peace.”

The virtual celebration offered a unique opportunity for families to celebrate from home a Catholic tradition that unites faith, prayer and cultural heritage to honor the faithful departed. Due to pandemic restrictions, this year only eight altars will be on display at Calvary Cemetery. They are dedicated to victims of Covid-19, to Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi, to those experiencing homelessness, first responders, and soldier Vanessa Guillen killed in Fort Hood, Texas, among others. They were built by non-profit organizations, parish ministry groups, students from a Catholic school, and Archdiocese representatives. The altars were blessed by Archbishop Gomez as part of the vigil. The public will be able to view the altars from Nov. 2-9, during Calvary Cemetery’s visitation hours (8 a.m.-5 p.m.). Due to the pandemic, there will be limited spacing for viewing throughout the day and all archdiocesan and LA County Public Health safety protocols will be followed.

“Each year we look forward to our annual Día de los Muertos and All Souls Day observances as they are genuinely one of the most uplifting celebrations for all of our employees and staff,” said Brian McMahon, director of Community Outreach of the Catholic Cemeteries and Mortuaries Department. “This year, due to the current Covid-19 pandemic, our team was challenged to create a meaningful program that allowed our patrons, family and friends to continue this magnificent tradition safely. Together with our partners in the Archdiocese’s Office of Religious Education, we developed a program that encourages participation in prayer, reflection and Catholic traditions.”

“Participating in this event for the first time by helping build an altar for those who have lost their lives to Covid brings some healing,” said Concepción Sánchez, whose father died of Covid19 in September 2020.

“Last year, my father-in-law was reminiscing when he saw the photos of his parents and relatives on an altar we had at home, and today we have his photo on this altar,” said Ivonne López, whose husband Eduardo López lost his father Urbicio López, who at 70 years old and with no underlying conditions died of Covid-19 in September. “We feel happy and honored to celebrate his life through this altar,” said Eduardo López. The altar was built by parishioners of St. Genevieve Parish in Panorama City.

The Día de los Muertos celebration featuredthe pilgrim images of the Virgin of Guadalupe and San Juan Diego, the Mariachi Charro de Oro de Adrian Cruz and a traditional sawdust carpet, “tapete,” with the image of Blessed Carlo Acutis, an English-born Italian 15-year-old student, who as an amateur computer programmer documented and posted on a website, Eucharistic miracles around the world before he died from leukemia in 2019. He was beatified by Pope Francis on Oct. 10, 2020.

A Virtual Día de los Muertos Catechetical Day preceded the Nov. 1 prayer service. It included an online video series that allowed students from 15 local Catholic schools to participate from home and encouraged them to create a sacred space or altar in their home. Through the video, the students learned about the meaning of Día de los Muertos as a celebration that commemorates the Feast of All Souls. Step by step, they learned how to decorate sugar skulls and picture frames for photos of their departed loved ones, craft paper marigold flowers and build a Día de los Muertos altar with mementos of loved ones.

On Monday, November 2, Archbishop Gomez will preside a virtual All Souls Day Mass from Holy Cross Cemetery that will be livestreamed at 10 a.m. Faithful are invited to view, and media are invited to capture, the Mass using the livestream feed on It will also be broadcasted live on TV and online viaEWTN and EWTN Español. The Mass is closed to the public. 

For more information and to view tonight’s livestream, please visit


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 Follow us using @LACatholics onFacebookInstagram and TwitterVideoplaylist of Masses celebrated by Archbishop José H. Gomez is also available.