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By Elena Macias

One hundred years after the second Catholic Church in the Coachella Valley was constructed in 1923, Our Lady of Soledad commemorated its vast history by celebrating a 100th anniversary Mass with Bishop Alberto Rojas on September 15.

Our Lady of Soledad acknowledged its history as a parish by beginning the celebration at the second church site, which was built in 1971. The congregation processed from the second church site to the current church, which was built in 2019 and is one of the largest in the Diocese. As the parishioners processed into the church, Bishop Rojas blessed them with Holy Water.

“It is very exciting to be here and to think that this parish community has been here for 100 years,” Bishop Rojas said. “It’s so beautiful to think of that because we celebrate Our Lady of Soledad and she, herself, has not allowed anyone to be alone because she has always been there for us, bringing Jesus to us in different ways. We celebrate that presence of God through the intercession of the Blessed Mother.”

Father Francisco Gomez, S.T., Pastor of Our Lady of Soledad, gave the homily and spoke of the parishioners’ strength in prayer and in community. Fr. Gomez also took a moment to recognize the first few pew rows that intentionally remained empty to honor the parishioners of Our Lady of Soledad that have passed away. Fr. Gomez recognized those parishioners because they are an important part of the 100-year history of the parish.

“Together we can say that for 100 years, Our Lady of Soledad, we have known what it means to pray, we have known what it means to pray with such intensity that the tears flow out of our eyes,” Fr. Gomez said.

Before the Mass ended, Bishop Rojas presented the parish with a commemorative plaque on behalf of the Diocese imparting an Episcopal Blessing to every parishioner of Our Lady of Soledad for 100 years as a parish community and for years to come. After celebrating the Mass, they gathered for a reception with food and a performance by a Palm Desert youth ballet folklorico.

Elena Macias is the Managing Editor of the Inland Catholic BYTE.