Bishop Ochoa celebrates first Easter in the Central Valley

FRESNO, Calif.

Hundreds of worshipers turned out on the eve before Easter Sunday to pay respect to their spiritual leader. Fresno's Catholic leader, Bishop Armando Ochoa led Easter Eve Mass at St. Johns Cathedral Saturday evening to commemorate the day Jesus Christ's body was laid in the tomb.

Before the mass, Bishop Ochoa held a brief ceremony outside the church around a fire pit to signify the light of Christ.

"When the bishop blessed it, all the other candles are lit by this particular fire, especially the Easter candle which sits on the alter during mass all through the year," said usher Orlando Gomez.

It was standing room only inside the packed cathedral as hundreds of worshipers gathered to hear the bishop give the Holy Saturday message -- some spilling out onto the front steps.

"It's a Holy Saturday for the beginning of the rising of Christ to me. For the risen of Christ who died on the cross for us," said Tina Ramirez of Fresno.

Ramirez came with her grandchild because she wanted her to understand the spiritual message of Easter. "It's very important that they know the Lord and what he did for us and how he died on the cross for our sins and for us and the Easter message of family unity was evident throughout."

"All the family participates and its like a family reunion, like holiday, for me that's what it means, having family together," said Diana Cortez of Fresno.

St. Johns will hold several Easter services throughout the day on Sunday.

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