By Fr. Louis Studer, OMI, U.S. Provincial
Wind gusts at times as high as 50 miles per hour caused severe damage to the makeshift tents which volunteers at the parish set up each week for the weekend Masses at St. Ferdinand’s Parish in San Fernando, CA.
The morning of the Third Sunday of Easter started like any other busy Sunday morning at this bustling Oblate parish, 25 miles east of Los Angeles, where Oblates celebrate Masses outside to accommodate the large number of parishioners during Covid 19, while maintaining social distancing. Mass at 7 a.m. went as usual but by the 8:30 Mass, strong winds began causing problems, particularly to the makeshift tents. By late morning, several tent poles had been severely damaged, several beyond repair.
Pastor Juan Ayala, while helping volunteers clean up some of the debris after the noon Mass, fell on the concrete as he struggled to remove some of the broken tent poles. Luckily, he was not badly hurt.
Oblates Juan Ayala, James Taggart, Carlos Alarcon and Feliciano Lopez-Ortiz minister to a few thousand parishioners at this Hispanic-Anglo parish on the far east side of Los Angeles. Oblates were the first priests to minister to the Hispanic population here, arriving over 100 ears ago.
During Covid, Oblates have also been live streaming weekday Masses in the church. About 70 parishioners attend these Masses virtually, with another 40 of the faithful who attend daily in person.