Photo: Araceli Martínez / Impremedia
The parishioners of the Nuestra Señora de Los Ángeles de la Placita Olvera church sat at the table for the first time during the covid-19 pandemic to share bread and salt outdoors during a Thanksgiving Day lunch .
The homeless who live around the church, in tents, and everyone who was hungry joined the feast.
The day laborer, Víctor Serrano, got a good plate of food, filled with mole chicken, Serrano ham, mashed potatoes, abundant vegetables and bread. “My sister invited me to come to eat. She is a volunteer for the Church, ”says Victor.
And he adds that this Thanksgiving has a lot to be thankful for. “Thank God I have not gotten sick with covid. And he did hit me, I didn’t realize it. But here we are giving thanks for health and daily bread ”.
With the help of volunteers, Our Lady of the Angels Church served 300 meals in the parish courtyard where tables were set up under a tent. The attendees enjoyed the food, listening to the happy notes of the pianist Julio Espinoza and the singer Dalia Rodríguez. Guitarist Óscar Chávez also made the moment happy with his chords.
The meal was served after the 10 am mass that was officiated by Father Arturo Corral, parish priest of the Church of the Placita Olvera.
It is a tradition that the Church of the Placita Olvera, as this parish is popularly known, serves food to the homeless on Thanksgiving Day.
“Last year, we also served 300 meals, but packed to go because of the pandemic. We had to take care of ourselves and keep our social distance ”, says Father Arturo, as everyone calls him.
“This year unlike the other years, when the Thanksgiving meal is exclusively for the homeless, we made an exception to invite all parishioners, volunteers and their families. But in reality it is open to everyone, ”says the priest.
Luciano Moreno Gándara, a 79-year-old Mexican immigrant, was served twice. “I asked again because I was hungry,” says Luciano, who lives in a room in Chinatown, just one block from the Iglesia de la Placita.
“This is my neighborhood. Every year I come to eat here on Thanksgiving Day. I no longer work and many years ago I separated from my wife, so I have nowhere to go for Thanksgiving Dinner. My wife returned to Mexico many years ago; and took my two children. They live in Cancun. The good thing was that they learned English and have good jobs there. I no longer wanted to go back ”.
With everything and that Luciano is practically alone, without family in this country, he says he has a lot to be thankful for. “I have been in the United States for 56 years now. I came at 23 years old. And I thank God that I have no illnesses.
Father Corral was happy to see the parishioners eating around a table again on Thanksgiving Day, and especially after the fatal toll in deaths and infections that COVID-19 left in the Latino community.
“Today in my homily message, I said that our lips should give thanks for all the blessings we have received, after the dark clouds that we have passed through the pandemic.”
He urged parishioners to raise their hands to give thanks for the food, and for all the good people who have blessed them this year.
“I asked them to thank those who have it for the blessing of work, for the capacities that God has given us, for the happy moments, for the gift of family and our children.”
And he ends by saying that he has asked God for a parenthesis so that this year is not darkened again by the pandemic.
In addition to the Placita Church, Hollywood’s Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church delivered nearly 3,000 meals to the homeless.