On Apr. 29 and May 1, the parish served as a testing site for the virus, providing 200 tests in a collaborative effort with the office of Rep. Raul Ruiz, who represents the 36th Congressional District of California.
“We need to do this to protect the people,” said Father Francisco Valdovinos, S.T., Pastor of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe. “We can kill the coronavirus.”
Fr. Valdovinos and other priests belonging to the Servants of the Most Holy Trinity religious order who are ministering in the Eastern Coachella Valley were also tested as a precautionary measure. None of the priests tested positive for the coronavirus.
In addition to providing COVID-19 testing the Mecca parish is collecting and distributing food baskets that include grains, fruits and vegetables along with non-food items such as toilet paper. The economic impact of the pandemic has hit migrant workers especially hard, increasing demand at local food pantries and churches. The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Guadalupe is distributing 600-700 food baskets every day.
“We expect to continue to do this as a service to the community,” says Fr. Valdovinos. “I want to keep in contact with the people.”
Another outreach effort to the Eastern Coachella Valley will begin this week when a Public Service Announcement from Bishop Gerald Barnes and Bishop Alberto Rojas airs on Spanish language TV stations. The PSA provides a message of spiritual accompaniment to the people while urging them to follow the government directives designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.