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Santa Ana parish honors Virgin of Guadalupe, despite fire

Many Catholics gather each Dec. 12 to attend mass in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe. A Santa Ana church and its Latino parishioners will carry on Monday's celebration, despite a fire last week that ripped through its nearly 90-year-old sanctuary.

Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish has scheduled masses throughout the day in honor of its namesake. Parishioners will play religious music and serve traditional Mexican fare.

Father Alfredo De Dios says church members will gather to pray inside what he calls “the new church” — a multipurpose room with pews. It’s next door to the parish’s main building, “the old church,” that remains charred.

“Most of the people, they come to church to pray, to hear the mass and to deposit flowers," de Dios says. "Maybe more people will come, because many people, they remember the church, they love the church because they were baptized over there, they had their wedding and other ceremonies.”

He adds that it's not just Mexicans who will attend. “Not only Mexicans, but Latin Americans — when they come to this country — they have a love to our lady of Guadalupe. It’s something in their blood.”

The parish’s main building was built in 1922. It had been undergoing retrofitting for several months and was scheduled to open in just a few weeks — that was before the fire, which investigators have ruled an accident.

De Dios says he asks his parishioners to have faith that the damaged church will be rebuilt in the near future.