Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in Brentwood will hold a bilingual memorial Mass for Father John Garcia on Friday, Aug. 30. The Mass is in celebration of what would have been his 100th birthday.
Garcia — who died in 2003 — was a priest for 54 years and served at Immaculate Heart of Mary (IHM) for 17 years, as well as at churches in Byron, Oakley, Martinez and Hayward.
Garcia was Portuguese and a fluent Spanish speaker, and was said to be instrumental in helping the Spanish-speaking communities he served.
He was known for his “five-minute visits” to people within the community who were in need. Giving out his personal phone number and encouraging people to contact him, Garcia was said to be a “priest around the clock.”
Garcia was known not only to be a man of his church, but a man of his local community. He was often seen at city parades as well as Liberty High School games and city hall meetings. One year, he was the grand marshal of a holiday parade.
Even after retiring in 2001, he continued his service.
“For the time being, I would expect to be saying Mass on Sundays and hearing confessions and visiting people and so on — pretty much what I’ve been doing,” Garcia said in a January 2002 article in The Catholic Voice.
The beloved priest’s 100th birthday memorial Mass will be held Friday, Aug. 30, 8:30 a.m., at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church, 500 Fairview Ave. in Brentwood. Live testimonials and refreshments will follow at 9:30 a.m.