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Bishop Robert McElroy to speak at historic San Diego Latino Orlando memorial

Bishop Robert McElroy
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Catholic, Latino and LGBT leaders are coming together in San Diego for a historic evening of solidarity called “San Diego Latino/Latina/Latinx Memorial on Orlando” on Saturday, July 9.

Bishop Robert McElroy, Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego will join the huge collection of Latino community officials, activists, and politicians at St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral in Bankers Hill.

“This is quite an historic event,” said longtime Latino and GLBT activist Nicole Murray-Ramirez, “This is just a wonderful coming together of communities…of the religious community; Catholics and leaders.”

The memorial is a special event to recognize the LGBT Latino community including parents friends and family members, who lost so many to the gunman the morning of June 12.

Eighty-percent of the people who fell victim to the assailant’s weapon were of Latin descent.  

In San Diego, thousands swarmed the streets of Hillcrest to honor those who were killed or injured.

But some felt that the collective grief was missing a voice for people of color. 

Organizer of the Latino Memorial event and former President of the Chicano Federation of San Diego, David Valladolid said, “Many in the LGBT community felt that the Latino leadership and community organizations had not created a bond of support and solidarity." 

Valladolid recognizes that after the tragedy many Latino leaders attended other vigils, "But for some reason the Latino community did not respond in a collective way, and that was what was basically bothering many in the community, the LGBT community," he said. 

Valladolid says he put the call out to many Latino community leaders to form a mass memorial, and the response was overwhelming.

“People just responded incredíbly, we just sent out the announcement, and we have seventy co-hosts,” he said. “out of the co-hosts we have twenty elected officials, about thirty organizations, and about twenty individuals who have signed on for this event.”

The list consists of over 70 invited officials and includes the Honorable Susan Davis of the US Congress, CA. Assembly Speaker Emeritus Toni Atkins, Executive Director ACLU, Norma Chavez-Peterson, San Diego City Council Member David Alvarez, the Honorable Juan Vargas, plus many more high-ranking individuals and organizations in both government and business. 

However, Murray-Ramirez having been moved so deeply by the words of San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy after Orlando, asked if it would be possible for him to speak at the memorial. 

As the country mourned, Bishop McElroy made a statement calling for a mend in the rift between LGBT people and the church, "This tragedy is a call for us as Catholics to combat ever more vigorously the anti-gay prejudice which exists in our Catholic community and in our country." 

The Bishop was expected to be out of town on July 9, but his offices confirmed that he would return in time for the memorial and would be in attendance. 

He will be joining St. Paul's Cathedral of San Diego's Episcopal Bishop James Mathes in offering words of  support and unity.   

“The event will be opened by Bishop Mathes from the Episcopal Diocese and what we are planning to do is have Bishop McElroy close," said Valladolid. "And then we have a planned agenda that I think is going to be very powerful because we are going to have forty-nine students, beginning after the Episcopal Bishop gives the blessing, come to the altar with pictures and the names of the forty-nine that were killed along with a candle.”

The organizers of the "Latino/Latina/Latinx Memorial on Orlando" hope that its message will transcend the event itself and bridge the gap between cultures, faith leaders and  communities.

In fact they have embraced the motto, "Somos Una Gente," which means "We are all one people". 

"This is a historic coming together of the Latino community in San Diego, the LGBT community and the religious community," Murray-Ramirez says. "Think about it: the leaders of the Latino community will be there, the leaders of Catholic community will be there, leaders of the gay community. This is quite a historic event." 

The event will be open for all who wish to attend, but may fill up due to limited space, "The Cathedral only holds seven-hundred people, so I think we are going to have standing room on the side," said Valladolid.

“San Diego Latino/Latina/Latinx Memorial on Orlando” will be held on Saturday, July 9, from 6 pm to 8 pm at St. Paul's Cathedral of San Diego.

St. Paul's Cathedral is located at 2728 Sixth Ave, San Diego.

Here is the list of co-hosts scheduled to attend: 

Elected Officials:

The Honorable Juan Vargas, US Congress

The Honorable Susan Davis, US Congress

The Honorable CA Assembly Speaker Emeritus Toni Atkins

The Honorable Lorena Gonzales, CA State Assembly Member

The Honorable Ben Hueso, CA Senate Member

The Honorable Chula Vista Mayor Mary Salas

The Honorable Todd Gloria, SD City Council Member

The Honorable David Alvarez, SD City Council Member

The Honorable Myrtle Cole, SD City Council Member

The Honorable Esther Sanchez, OS City Council Member

The Honorable Maria Nieto Senour, President SDCC Board of Trustees

The Honorable Richard Barrera, SDUSD VP Board of Trustees

The Honorable Mona Rios, NC Council Member

The Honorable Alejandra Sotelo-Solis, National City Council Member

The Honorable Nora Vargas, SWCC Trustee President

The Honorable Luis Natividad, National City Council Member Emeritus

The Honorable Teresa Valladolid, SWCC Trustee Emeritus


Chicano Federation, Ray Uzeta, President

Alliance of San Diego, Andrea Guerrero, President

MABPA, Josie Calderon, Founder & Executive Director

Urban Leadership Development Institute, Fred Sotelo, Board Member

SD Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Albert Clark, President

Border Angels, Enrique Morones, Founder

The Latina/o Indigenous Peoples Unity Coalition, Dr. Guadalupe Corona

SD LGBT Community Center, Dr. Delores A. Jacobs, President

SD La Raza Lawyers, Luis O. Osuna, Esq. President

La Prensa SD, Art Castañares, President

Cesar Chavez Service Clubs, Carlos & Linda LeGerrette, Founders

Hispanic Organized For Political Equality, HOPE

MAAC Project, Arnulfo Manriquez, President

Southwestern College, Chicano Latino Coalition, Ms. Aguilar and Ms. Escobedo

Casa Familiar, Andrea Skorepa, President & CEO

 San Ysidro Health Center, R. Daniel Hernandez, Director of Com. Relations

South Bay Community Services, Patty Chavez, Director of External Affairs

St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral, The Very Reverend Dean Penny Bridges

La Voz De San Diego, Pedro Anaya, Founder & Editor

SD Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s LGBT Advisory Board

Barrio Station, Rachel Ortiz, Executive Director

GLSEN SD, Co-Chairs, Dennis Nicely, and Chet Sewell

San Diego Unified Latino Advisory to the SDUSD Superintendent, Alberto Ochoa and Rosalia Salinas, Co-Chairs

Mama's Kitchen, Alberto Cortés, Executive Director 

National City Chamber of Commerce


Bishop Robert McElroy, Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego

Jose Padilla, Esq. CRLA

Anthony Valladolid, Esq., CRLA & MAAC Board Member

David Valladolid, PIQE President & CEO

Jose Cruz, President of the Barrio Logan College Institute (BLCI)

Roy Castillo, ASO, Senator Higher Ed. Center San Ysidro

Rosalia Salinas, PIQE Board of Directors

Norma Chavez-Peterson, Executive Director ACLU

William Virchis, Founder of Teatro Mascara Magica

Ricardo Flores, Chief of Staff, SD Council Member Marti Emerald

Nicole Murray Ramirez, Co-Chair of the Harvey Milk Foundation

Rafael Castellanos, Esq., SD Port Commissioner

Gloria Serrano Medina, Member of Barrio Station Board

Myrna Zambrano, Special Assistant to Speaker Toni Atkins

Larry Baza, San Diego Commissioner for Arts & Culture, Member California Arts Council.