MISSION — As the sun rose over La Lomita Chapel here early yesterday morning, Rev. Roy Snipes gently pulled down on a wooden staff to sound a bell, marking the deaths of immigrants found on the riverbanks of the Rio Grande with each toll.
Snipes, who has presided over Our Lady of Guadalupe Church for nearly three decades, said he had never rung the bell at La Lomita before yesterday’s mass funeral for the immigrants who’ve recently died coming to America.
Just outside the 150-year-old chapel and shrine, six wreaths stood, each one wrapped in a sash prominently displaying the names of the six souls lost over last weekend.
“We do this in memory of Jesus Christ… “ Snipes said as he led a small group of parishioners in prayer during the sunrise service. “…and loved ones who’ve been taken from us by the angel of death, especially those who died here on the river just within the last week.
Among those recited were 25-year-old Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his 23-month-old daughter Valeria, the Salvadoran immigrants found dead near the riverbanks between Matamoros, Mexico and Brownsville, the image of which has captured the nation’s attention and prompted outrage.
FBI officials, who are leading the investigation because the area in which the bodies were found is federal land, said there were no new updates in the case as of Friday.
“…And all those who have died, we commend them humbly to your love, as we remember them,” Snipes prayed.