Hundreds of faithful honored the memory of Father Julio César Ramos Ortega, MG, at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church (known locally as La Lupita) in El Monte June 11. 

Since 2021, Ramos, 51, had served as pastor of La Lupita and as chair of the archdiocese’s Guadalupano committee, which organizes the archdiocese’s annual Guadalupe-themed celebrations, including the tour of the pilgrim images and a special December Mass and procession held in East LA.  

He died June 6 from cancer while in the care of members of his religious community, the Missionaries of Guadalupe, in his native Jalisco, Mexico. He had returned there earlier this year following a cancer diagnosis.

After holding a moment of silence, Father Zacarias Romo, MG, superior general of the Missionaries of Guadalupe, told those gathered for the Mass that they were there to thank God that “Padre Julio” was already with him.

“Father Julio touched something in each of your lives, and God brought you closer to his love through him,” Romo told mourners during his homily. “He inspired and motivated something in those of us who knew him.”

Amid the fresh pain and heartache of Ramos’ passing, Romo recalled how in his last Mass at La Lupita with parishioners last February, Ramos spoke of the spousal relationship that forms between a priest and his community.

“We saw Father Julio loving his spouse, the Church, loving his community,” said Romo. “Now I see the spouse [the Church] grateful for the life of their spouse.”

The Guadalupano Committee honored Ramos by bringing the pilgrim image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the Mass. Ramos had been the chair of the archdiocese’s Guadalupano Committee, which organizes the archdiocese’s annual Guadalupe-themed celebrations. (Victor Alemán)

Ramos was ordained a priest July 14, 2001, in Guadalajara, Mexico, before going on to serve as a missionary priest in Japan and the United States.

“His greatest virtue was how he did good for others,” said his aunt Catalina Ortega López, who attended the Mass. “To me, his love for God is what he leaves behind.”

Ramos attended elementary and high school in Guadalajara before entering a missionary seminary in 1992. He went on to study philosophy and theology at Mexico City’s Universidad Intercontinental.

“My cousin was always a very noble person,” said Julio Avelio Garcia Ortega. “He was a humble person with the heart of a child, a beautiful person.”

The Guadalupano Committee honored Ramos at the farewell Mass by bringing the pilgrim image of Our Lady of Guadalupe to the liturgy. As chair of the committee, Ortega oversaw the image’s tour of parishes across Southern California in the weeks leading up to the archdiocese’s special December Mass and procession in East LA every year.

At the start of the Mass, local members of the Knights of Columbus brought forth La Virgen Peregrina and placed her next to an arrangement of pictures of Ramos and two wreaths of red roses and white carnations.

“Father Julio César was the lead coordinator for the pilgrimage in the last two years,” said Verónica Reyes of the archdiocese’s Media Relations Department and member of the Guadalupano committee. “I believe [the pilgrim image] was a beautiful detail, and I think he must be very happy about it, having been a Missionary of Guadalupe.”

Hundreds of Catholics, including more than a dozen priests, gathered at La Lupita for the Memorial Mass in honor of former pastor Father Julio César Ramos Ortega, MG, who died June 6 in Mexico. (Victor Alemán)

With Ramos’ passing, the task of overseeing the annual Guadalupe pilgrimage now falls to Father Miguel Angel Ruiz, administrator of Our Lady of the Rosary of Talpa Church in East LA.

The Mass was attended by Catholics from around the archdiocese, including from parishes where Ramos had served before La Lupita: St. Paul Church in Mid-City, St. Joseph the Worker Church in Winnetka, and St. Martha Church in Huntington Park. 

“When Padre Julio was leaving to Mexico, I sang him the song ‘Hermoso Cariño,’ “ remarked mariachi singer Adrián Cruz, who first met Ramos during his time in the San Fernando Valley. “I had hope he would recover from the cancer.”

Fellow Missionary of Guadalupe Father Carlos May, who coincided with Ramos during his time at St. Paul and St. Martha, described Ramos as an excellent priest and good administrator.

“That’s why this is such a hard loss for the community and the congregation,” he said. “It’s painful to lose a brother.”