After recording 54 COVID-19 related deaths among its predominately Latino congregants, Divine Providence Catholic Church stood nearly empty for more than a year, as the pandemic kept many parishioners at home.
The coronavirus ravaged families, and funerals outnumbered Bible studies.
The Latino congregation are now the highest people on the number of those who have received the COVID-19 vaccine.
Throughout the different stages of the pandemic, Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Mecca — a largely Latino migrant town in Southern California’s Coachella Valley — distributed face masks and food.
They even hosted COVID-19 tests and advocated for the vaccine as soon as it became available.
The Rev. Francisco Valdovinos, who pastored the church, died of COVID-19 in January. His legacy has helped ignite a consciousness around public health and COVID-19 prevention among farmworkers and others.
According to Luz Gallegos, executive director of TODEC Legal Center, an immigrant rights group in Southern California’s Inland Empire — the region’s Catholic diocese, coupled with public health leaders and community groups, was instrumental in helping her organization dispel misinformation and increase access to the vaccine in the region.
“If we’re not proactive and take the vaccine, the miracles are not going to just come,” said Gallegos, who is Catholic.