Delia Contreras, who still has not heard news of the fate of her two sisters during the Mexico City earthquake, prayed feverishly Tuesday night at a high Mass at St. Anne's Catholic Church in Santa Ana on behalf of the victims of last week's tragedy.
Contreras, who sat in the front pew with three of her four children, hardly paused from praying with her rosary during the hourlong Mass celebrated by the Most Rev. Tomas Clavel, vicar of the Latino community for the Catholic Diocese of Orange.
Even after the Mass was completed, Contreras continued praying. Dressed in a light-blue print dress and wearing a white veil that concealed her light-green eyes, Contreras knelt at a side altar long after the Mass had ended.
With tears drying on her face, she moved outside the church where she was consoled by friends. Contreras said her two sisters live in Zona Linda Vista, one of the residential areas hit by last week's earthquake. She has no idea if they survived.
"I have not heard anything. I just pray, but I have had no communication from Mexico," she said.
Contreras was but one of the more than 300 parishioners who prayed for the dead, and for the survivors, of the earthquake. Amid an aroma of incense and the music of a mariachi group, Clavel praised the citizens of Mexico City for rallying to help one another during the great crisis.
"At this moment, Mexico is (setting) a great example for humanity. The love and unity of the people of Mexico is great," Clavel said during the passionate sermon he delivered in English and Spanish.
He also asked his listeners, many of whom were women carrying children, to pray for the survivors who may still be buried beneath the rubble in downtown Mexico City.
On Tuesday, Mexican officials said the confirmed death toll had exceeded 4,000 and predicted that it would reach 5,000 by the time demolition teams unearth all the bodies buried by the earthquake.
In his sermon, Clavel called for his audience to pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico, to help those who "have suffered so much."
"We pray to Our Lady of Guadalupe, who is the real mother of Mexico, to guide Mexico to the road of hope, of light, and of faith . . . like she has so many times before," Clavel said.
During the formal Mass, the congregation also contributed several hundred dollars to help in the relief effort for the earthquake's victims.
Jose Cortez, 32, was another who came to pray for his family in Mexico. Cortez, who has lived in Santa Ana for 13 years, said his father, mother and several relatives are in Jalisco, one of four states damaged by the earthquake.
Cortez said he has been unable to communicate with anyone in Chalapa, his hometown.
"I hope that when the (telephone) service is restored, they will find a way to call me to let me know they survived. That's the only hope I can have right now," he said.