November 6, 2017  |  By:   |  Archbishop Gomez, Press Releases  |  

Archbishop Gomez Celebrated Mass at Calvary Cemetery on Saturday, Nov. 4 before Cultural Celebration, including Performance by Mexican Regional Singer Helen Ochoa

The Catholic Cemeteries & Mortuaries, a ministry of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, hosted Día de Los Muertos celebrations in Oxnard on Saturday, October 28, and East L.A. on Saturday, November 4. The events, attended by thousands throughout Southern California, commemorated All Souls Day in rich Catholic tradition to celebrate the eternal life of our departed loved ones with music, dance, prayer and traditional ofrendas (altars).

“This is a beautiful tradition in our faith — to pray for the faithful departed. We remember their lives and pray for their intercession, so that one day we will be together eternally,” said Archbishop Gomez.

The free family-friendly events featured presentations about the meaning and significance of Día de los Muertos, blessing of traditional altars in honor of the faithful departed, folkloric dances, Mariachi concert, and activities for children, including crafts and calavera (skull) face painting. Sacred art specialist Lalo Garcia and other local artists exhibited art pieces.

“Over the past four years we have been grateful to those families who have participated in sharing their stories with us and the community. It was evident from our first experience that these events are both comforting and enjoyable to all that attend,” said Brian McMahon, director of administrative services of the Catholic Cemeteries Department. “These cultural celebrations allow our patrons to celebrate the lives of their loved ones in a very unique and special way.”

The community participated by building their own altars for their deceased loved ones which were displayed around the cemetery mausoleums. Some placed photos of their departed loved ones on a massive community altar, built by the local Oaxacan community. The altar was dedicated to those who lost their lives due to this year’s natural disasters and tragedies.

“The celebration of the Día de los Muertos keeps growing in the U.S. I come here from Mexico to show our cultural roots, the tones and textures of its people, which is what motivates me to create sawdust carpets,” said artist Eduardo Serrato, 41, who traveled from Guanajuato, Mexico to work on sawdust pieces displayed at both celebrations. “There is more unity when we share our culture.”

Mexican Regional singer Helen Ochoa (in East LA) and America’s Got Talent semifinalist Alondra Santos (in Oxnard) performed at the celebrations offering a unique opportunity for families to celebrate a Catholic tradition that unites faith, prayer and cultural heritage.

Today’s Mass was transmitted live on ETWN Español and will be broadcast at 8 p.m. tonight on EWTN.

In preparation for the Nov. 4 event, Catholic Cemeteries and the Archdiocese’s Office of Religious Education co-presented a Día de los Muertos catechetical day for Catholic students from East LA on Friday, Nov. 3. More than 200 students from nine nearby Catholic schools gathered at Calvary Cemetery to learn about the meaning of Día de los Muertos and All Souls Day. The students decorated sugar skulls, picture frames and crafted paper flowers. They also built a school Día de los Muertos altar with flowers and mementos of loved ones.

Food and refreshments was provided by local vendors, including Vallarta Supermarkets, Jarritos, Caremore, Wienerschnitzel, Tortas Chago, El Gallo Giro, Teresita’s Restaurant, Forneris Farms, and Vanessa’s Bakery. Other sponsors include the Archdiocese’s Office of Religious Education, Catholic Communication Collaboration (C3) with Sprint, La Curacao, Cruz Flowers, Forneris Farms, American Marble & Granite, R.A.Y’s Pool Plastering, Santa Clara Diesel, and Ferdinand the Movie.

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PHOTO ATTACHED: Archbishop José H. Gomez, presided at the Mass for Día de los Muertos celebration on Saturday, Nov. 4 at Calvary Cemetery in East Los Angeles. A massive community altar was dedicated to those who lost their lives in the 2017 natural disasters and tragedies in the U.S. and around the world. (Archdiocese of Los Angeles)