Monterey Park church holds special Mass to honor shooting victims

In the last of a somber week of commemoration since the mass shooting in Monterey Park, dozens of people flocked to the Catholic Church of St. Stephen the Martyr Friday night for a service honoring the 11 victims.

A sign hung in front of the church with the names of the dead: Mymy Nhan, 65; LiLan Li, 63; Xiujuan Yu, 57; Hong Ying Jian, 62; Muoi Dai Ung, 67; Valentino Marcos Alvero, 68; Yu Lun Kao, 72; Chia Ling Yau, 76; Wen-Tau Yu, 64; Ming Wei Ma, 72; and Diana Man Ling Tom, 70.

Father Joseph Magdaong, who presided over the Mass with Archbishop of Los Angeles José H. Goméz and Auxiliary Bishop David G. O’Connell, underscored the importance of the shooting on Lunar New Year’s Eve.

“Ironically, this is the saddest moment for us in Monterey Park,” said Magdaong, pastor of St. Stephen Martyr Catholic Parish.

A man raises his hands while seated in a pew with the congregation

The scene at St. Stephen Martyr Catholic Church during Friday night’s special mass.

(Jay L Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

According to Magdaong, Alvero had been a parishioner at St. Stephen Martyr. He was a Filipino American and a devout Catholic who loved ballroom dancing, his family said. They called it a “great farce” that he had not received his last rites, a sacrament administered before death.

“Our family would like to ask all priests and Catholics to pray for him by name, Valentino Marcos Alvero,” the family wrote in a statement. “He was a faithful servant of God and we know that more than anything he would want the world to lift up his family in prayer.”

Alvero’s daughter had her wedding at St. Stephen Martyr a few years ago, said Martha Sanchez, a parishioner at Friday night’s service.

“When I found out that he was one of the people who were killed, the day of the wedding came to mind. It was just so joyful,” Sanchez said. “He was so proud to lead her down the aisle. He just beamed.”

Alvero also had at least three grandchildren, Sanchez said.

“He was a very nice man,” she added. “Very respectful and very loving to his daughter.”

Alvero was a “loving father, a devoted son and brother, a grandfather who loved his three nieces and nephews like his own children,” his family said.

Near the Star Ballroom Dance Studio, the scene of Saturday’s mass shooting, two of Alvero’s relatives stood in front of his picture, on which a monument has sprouted, visitors left bouquets of flowers and lit candles.

Alvero’s relatives both declined to be interviewed, but one recalled that Alvero was “always happy and smiling.”

Alvero is “more than just a headline or a piece of news,” the family said in their statement.

“He loved people and hearing about their lives and in return he shared his own stories with so much excitement and enthusiasm that you couldn’t help but listen and laugh along,” the family wrote.

A vigil was held on the grounds almost nightly, with hundreds passing each night.

On Wednesday, Vice President Kamala Harris attended the Star Ballroom and placed a bouquet of flowers in the front. Monterey Park church holds special Mass to honor shooting victims

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