Nearly everything about Sunday’s 89th annual Virgen de Guadalupe procession and Mass at the San Gabriel Mission was different from the year before: a historic change of format and venue, a scant crowd, masks and social distancing.

The coronavirus changed it all — except for the faith of the attendees and the devotion of organizers.

“This year it was particularly important to continue this beautiful tradition celebrating the Virgen de Guadalupe because she is the mother of healing and hope,” Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gomez said shortly before leading Sunday’s service. “In these challenging times, she is the one who keeps us together as a family.”

This year’s procession was the first held outside Los Angeles and the first in years to be relocated from Cesar Chavez Avenue in East Los Angeles, in part to discourage a large crowd from gathering during a pandemic shutdown.

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By Kelley Wheeler

Kelley Wheeler is a Metro reporter covering political issues and general assignments. A second-generation journalist, worked with all major news outlet, she holds a vast expeirience. Kelley is a graduate of USC with degrees in journalism and English literature. She is a recipient of Yale’s Poynter Fellowship in Journalism.

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