Juan Lopez Chaparro, a migrant worker from Mexico who lost his life to COVID-19, was remembered Sunday as a man always eager to help family, friends and even strangers.
“Juan was a good man, husband, father and grandfather,” Rev. Peter Ciallella, pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Burford, said at a memorial mass for Lopez Chaparro. “He loved his family dearly and did all he could to better their lives.
“Juan always treated others with respect and care.”
He described Lopez Chaparro, who was 55 and father of four children, as a hard worker.
“His death is a terrible loss for the family and for the community. as well,” Ciallella said. “We know that he came here to work and to support his family and to build a better life for his children.
“But we know that he will not be seeing them again.”
Lopez Chaparro was one of about 200 migrant workers from the Scotlynn Group farm operation in Norfolk County to become sick with COVID-19 just over a month ago. He was transferred to London University Hospital while in quarantine and his condition worsened.
He died June 20.
On Sunday, civic leaders joined Blessed Sacrament members to remember Lopez Chaparro. To ensure that his co-workers and his family in Mexico were able to view the service, arrangements were made to live stream the memorial mass online.
Most of Lopez Chaparro’s co-workers have only recently been released from quarantine.
Earlier, Ciallella, who ministers to the area’s migrant workers, visited the workers to inform them of their friend’s passing.
“It was sad,” he said prior to Sunday’s mass. “They are his companions and they took it hard. It was very difficult, very emotional.”
Ciallella said he sought with the service to bring “care and comfort” to Lopez Chaparro’s family, co-workers and the community.
“We have also suffered a big loss.”
Ciallella said the other workers are well physically but he cannot comment on their mental state because he hasn’t been able to spend much time with them. However, he hopes to meet with them soon.
The priest said that, while Lopez Chaparro’s death causes much pain for family and friends, the lessons learned from his passing will prevent further deaths.
Ciallella urged people to support the man’s family in any way possible.
A Go Fund Me in support of the family can be found at www.gofundme.com/f/help-the-family-of-juan-lopez-chaparro .
The fundraising initiative was started by Ciallella with the goal of raising $10,000. As of Monday, more than $9,000 has been raised.
Ciallella was joined at the Sunday service by Brant County Coun. David Miller and Norfolk Mayor Kristal Chopp, who is also the chair of the Haldimand-Norfolk board of health.
Miller expressed condolences on behalf of Brant County and thanked Ciallella for holding the service.
“This has been a difficult time for all us and there isn’t a playbook telling us what to do and what not to do,” Miller said. “I know that we’re all trying our best but sometimes it’s not enough.”
He said Brant residents have a great deal of respect for the work migrant workers do.
Speaking in Spanish and in English, Chopp expressed condolences on behalf of Norfolk County.
She said Norfolk residents are saddened by Lopez Chaparro’s passing and recognize the contribution migrant workers make to the country.
Also at the mass were a representative of Scotlynn Group and Dr. Shanker Nesathurai, Haldimand-Norfolk’s medical officer of health.
Lopez Chaparro is one of three migrant workers in Ontario who have died of COVID-19.