A small downtown Los Angeles street near Our Lady Queen of the Angels church was named Paseo Luis Olivares today, in honor of a late priest and activist who dedicated his life to helping the neediest among the city's Latino communities.
"Dedicating a street in Los Angeles is the basic recognition from the city where my brother labored and struggled for justice for its poorest residents,'' Henry Olivares, the priest's brother, said after the new street sign was unveiled.
Paseo Luis Olivares is the small street that lies just north of the church property, between New High Street to the west and North Main Street to the east.
Father Luis Olivares served as pastor of Our Lady Queen of the Angels, also known as La Placita, from 1981 to 1989.
While there, he co-founded the United Neighborhood Organization, which helps Latino neighborhoods address issues of street violence, student drop-out rates, and overcrowded and under-performing schools.
He also co-founded the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, which advocates for civil rights for immigrants and refugees.
In 1988, Olivares declared the Old Plaza Church a sanctuary for refugees fleeing from the political turmoil and bloodshed in El Salvador. During one of his many trips to that country, Olivares, a diabetic, was infected with HIV through an improperly sanitized needle.
He died in 1993, at age 59.
"Paseo Luis Olivares is a fitting tribute to a great man,'' said Councilman Jose Huizar, whose motion to rename the street was approved by the City Council. "Father Luis Olivares' activism on behalf of immigrants, those living with AIDS, and the homeless established a legacy that will live on