Father Luis Olivares, a Biography: Faith Politics and the Origins of the Sanctuary Movement in Los Angeles

By Mario T. García | Go to book overview

TWELVE
¡Presente!

Luis Olivares awoke one morning in early June 1990. He did not feel well, but he got up anyway, showered, and dressed. His dogs and cat all greeted him, as did his birds. This always made him happy even when he wasn’t feeling well, either physically or emotionally. After feeding his pets, he cleaned up his room a bit. He bent over to pick up a tank of water for his fish and felt his back buckle on him. Before he knew it, he was falling down face first on the floor. He lay on the wet surface until one of the other priests in hearing his fall went to his room, knocked on the door, and perhaps hearing Olivares moaning, entered and found the fallen pastor. “Luis, what happened” he said. He helped Olivares to his feet.

“Are you alright?”

“I don’t feel well. I think I have the flu.”1

Not taking any chances, the other priests arranged for one of them to drive Olivares to Santa Marta Hospital in East Los Angeles. Santa Marta focused on maternity care, but also provided emergency and critical care, in addition to outpatient surgery. Established as a Catholic hospital in 1924, it was operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet.2 Olivares had sometimes gone there when he felt sick, and the nuns, who adored him, made special allowances for him. They immediately saw that Olivares did not just have the flu; he was very sick and they called the attending doctors.3


I

The fact was that Olivares had always had health problems. As a young boy and as a seminarian, he was frail and underweight. His eating habits were always problematic; he was picky about his food. He differed from his brothers, such as Henry, who was a natural athlete and always robust. Olivares often got colds or the flu. On top of this, he developed diabetes in his adult years and had to take medicine for it. Richard Estrada notes that Olivares was never very healthy. He had, according to Estrada, several bouts

-445-

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Father Luis Olivares, a Biography: Faith Politics and the Origins of the Sanctuary Movement in Los Angeles
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Figures ix
  • Prologue 1
  • Introduction 5
  • One - San Antonio 31
  • Two - Seminary 56
  • Three - Priesthood 86
  • Four - Company Man 124
  • Five - Conversion 154
  • Six - Organizing the Barrio 181
  • Seven - Community Priest 207
  • Eight - Preparing Sanctuary 248
  • Nine - Declaring Sanctuary 307
  • Ten - Expanding Sanctuary 343
  • Eleven - The Good Pastor 390
  • Twelve - ¡presente! 445
  • Epilogue 498
  • Acknowledgments 501
  • Notes 503
  • Bibliography 539
  • Index 545
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