LOCAL L.A. Now

Cesar Chavez's family to attend Mass to celebrate his life

The family of Cesar Chavez will attend an annual Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels on Sunday to celebrate the life and work of the late labor leader.

The Mass, now in its 14th year, will be celebrated beginning at 12:30 p.m. and led by Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez. Chavez’s son, Paul Chavez, and Arturo Rodriguez, the president of the United Farm Workers union founded by Chavez, are scheduled to speak at the close of the celebration.

“Cesar Chavez was a man of prayer and a man of peace,” Gomez said. “He fought for justice for his people – using the spiritual weapons of prayer, fasting, and self-sacrifice, and he always urged nonviolence.”

Chavez would have been on 87 on March 31. His birthday is celebrated as a state holiday in California, Texas and Colorado. His life is the subject of a new movie directed by actor Diego Luna and a book by former Los Angeles Times reporter and editor Miriam Pawel.

Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Delano grape strike, which launched Chavez and the plight of farmworkers into the national spotlight.

The Los Angeles archdiocese has a long history of championing Latino causes.

Gomez’s predecessor, Cardinal Roger Mahony, was beloved in the community and marched with Cesar Chavez in the 1970s to fight for farmworker rights.

Recently Gomez, the highest-ranking Latino official in the U.S. Catholic Church, has taken a strong stance on immigration reform since assuming the post in 2011, penning a book and making spirited pleas to lawmakers to prioritize rights for the undocumented.

He said he has reflected on Chavez’s legacy recently as he advocates for immigration reform, calling it “one of the great human rights issues of our time.”

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christine.maiduc@latimes.com

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