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Cardinal blesses memorial to OLA fire victims

For the better part of 50 years, there has been no visible marker at the former Our Lady of the Angels Parish for the fire that took 95 lives on Dec. 1, 1958. There is a statue where many of the children are buried at Mount Carmel Cemetery, and one at Holy Family Church that once stood in the rebuilt school building. The statue was removed after the building was leased by a public charter school.

On Dec. 8, Cardinal George blessed a new memorial on the lawn of the former rectory that now serves as the Our Lady of the Angels Mission. The granite memorial features a statue of Mary as Our Lady of the Angels flanked by two tables listing the names of the 92 children and three nuns who died.

Listing all the names drove up the cost of the project. But Father Bob Lombardo, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal, said donations covered it.

“If it was my brother or sister, I would want their name on it,” he said. “What is being done here is under the patronage of Our Lady. It is a tribute to the victims as well as the heroes.”