What seems like something from a movie script was a real event that filled everyone present with grief.
“He walked on his own feet to his own funeral Mass.”
This is how Fr. Sajid Lozano, parish priest of the Jesus the Priest Parish in Mexico City, described the event that took place on February 21, 2021. It was first reported by Spanish-language Catholic news website Desde la Fe and reconfirmed by the priest in a conversation with Aleteia.
Desde la Fe reporter Melva Navarro writes that around noon of that day, Juan arrived at the church, genuflected, walked forward with difficulty with the intention of reaching the altar, and collapsed and died.
What seems like something from a movie script was a real event that filled everyone present with grief – from the sacristan, a witness of the event, to the entire rest of the parish community. Juan’s death took place minutes before the celebration of the Mass of the first Sunday of Lent, which would ultimately become a Mass to ask God for Juan’s eternal rest.
A quick response
The first thing the pastor did when he saw what had happened was to call 911 and seek help. As the police and medical services arrived, so did the parishioners, who came upon the scene of the man lying on the ground.
As for the cause of death, a swift investigation determined it to be a sudden heart attack; there were no signs of violence. This made it possible for the church to continue with its activities. But first they tried to identify the person and get in touch with the relatives, which they were able to do because Juan turned out to be someone who lived near the church.
Once the family was notified, Juan’s son came to the scene. At that point, with the family’s agreement, the priest decided to celebrate the funeral Mass rites on the spot for the deceased.
“They prayed for a person they didn’t know, but who was a member of the community… Some cried because they were shocked and also moved by the pain of the loss,” said the parish priest. The funeral took place in the presence of Juan’s body, which was covered with a sheet on the spot where he died, as can be seen in the images.
Support for the family
“The family is doing OK. I couldn’t speak with them after the funeral because when I left the 1:00 p.m. Mass the funeral home arrived and they had already left,” Fr. Sajid told Aleteia. He explained that the family immediately took responsibility for the body and gave him a Christian burial.
Finally, he also announced that after what happened to Juan, the parish sought out the family to offer them support. “It is a low-income family which for obvious reasons needs the support of the parish and the community,” he concluded.
The end of the road, the beginning of eternal life
The priest also commented that he noticed the event’s impact on the community. And it’s no surprise! And what happened to Juan also inspired people to reflect on death.
“It’s only the end of our pilgrimage in this world, but the beginning of eternal life,” said the priest, according to the Desde la Fe website.
“I think that he was already feeling unwell, that he felt despair and wanted to come to the church to finally die here,” the priest added.
Fr. Sajid told Aleteia that although no one is not prepared for these events, “a priest must be prepared to provide a legal solution and attend immediately to these kinds of situations that are part of parish life.”
Let us pray for Juan and for all those who die unexpectedly.