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Father Jorge Luis Penaloza  Serpa’s Funeral Mass was celebrated Friday, June 6, at St Francis Xavier Church, Pico Rivera. Seven of us Sisters of the Holy Faith were in attendance.

Fourteen years ago our regional leadership was looking for a location where we could minister to the poor. Sisters Vickey Haran and Barbara Gunning spent much time going to various cities seeking permission to open an outreach but because of the zoning laws the city managers would not endorse the opening of such a center within their communities.

Deacon Arturo Barragan introduced our then Regional Leader, Sister Colette Connelly and Sister Vickey Haran to Father Penaloza  who showed them different properties within the parish boundaries of St. Francis Xavier Parish that could be possible sites for our project. However, none of them were suitable and Father promised to keep looking for a suitable place. One year later Father called to say he had the ideal houses across the street from the church. The property was near enough to be recognized as an outreach from St. Francis Xavier Parish while at the same time it would be financially independent of the parish. Thus was born the Margaret Aylward Center which, this year celebrates its 10th Anniversary.  

Father Penaloza was a man who loved the poor unreservedly and would go to any lengths to see that they were served with dignity and compassion. In the early years of Margaret Aylward Center Father Penaloza came by each day making sure that the sisters and volunteers had all they needed while meeting the clients. Father introduced the sisters to Lupe Gonzales, a well respected member of the parish, who spoke Spanish and had, and continues to have, a great understanding of people in need.  Father‘s words and actions mirrored his value on the dignity of the human person. He will be truly missed by the people of Pico Rivera.

As a mark of respect and to show their admiration for Father Penaloza, a group of eight priests carried Father Penaloza’s casket from the church while the congregation waved white cloths in a true Peruvian farewell.