Many are mourning the great loss of a community leader who made an impact not only as a priest but also against the covid-19 pandemic. NBC Palm Springs spoke to community officials and leaders on the legacy and great example he leaves behind.
Known for his service to the church and his tireless food distribution held every Sunday, Father Francisco Valdovinos would feed on average 500 families every week. Amid the pandemic, Sanctuary Of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, where Valdovinos served, became a hub of covid-19 relief. Some referring to him as another Cesar Chavez.
“Father Francisco reminds me of a Cesar, giving out food and feeding the poor. It’s a big satisfaction and a blessing, and I invite everyone out there to come to this church and donate whatever they can,” said Clementina Ollque, Member of Our Lady Of Guadalupe Church.
“He was a fearless advocate for the poor, particularly during this time of this pandemic. He had absolutely no fear of getting sick,” said Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, representing California’s 56th District.
And as the pandemic progressed, so did Father Valdovino’s efforts, as he carried out testing and vaccination campaigns for coronavirus.
“Father Valdovinos and I were in frequent conversations about the importance of donating these masks to the public in Mecca,” mentioned Yaoska Machado, Senior Public Information Specialist with Riverside County.
“There were people just coming to him because they knew and felt comfortable with his persona and his spirit of giving, that’s just one example. When we got the call from him and a couple of his partners asking for the contact for additional loads of food, he was having to bring it in from Los Angeles,” explained Garcia.
On December 16th, Father Valdovinos was diagnosed with the deadly virus, his condition later worsened, reaching a point where he required 100% oxygen. Over the weekend members gathered to pray for the father at JFK Hospital in Indio.
Following Valdovinos directives, he was taken off the respirator on Sunday after having spent weeks in the hospital and his condition not improving.
“Father lived every single day with a strong dedication to his faith and to the people he served and I think that’s a perfect example of how we should all live our life,” said Garcia.
Father Francisco Valdovinos was 58.