Alice OllsteinMirror Contributing WriterLight rain fell against the stained glass windows as friends, family, teachers, teammates and community members gathered at Saint Monica’s Catholic Church to mourn the death and honor the life of Eddie Lopez, who was shot and killed on February 28. Every pew was filled, the standing room in the lobby was filled, and still more mourners sat on the steps of the church and listened to the service, which Monsignor Lloyd Torgerson called “a celebration of life.” Torgerson said: “We might want to ask our lord why he called Eddie back so young. But today is not about answering questions. It’s about loving, supporting and helping each other through this tragedy.”From the ornate pulpit decorated with purple velvet and photographs of Eddie, the Santa Monica Youth Choir sang several Psalms, accompanied by a four piece rock group that lent an upbeat mood to the mournful atmosphere. Many congregants linked arms, held hands and sang along to “The Lord is My Light” and “Glory and Praise.” The service included biblical passages in both English and Spanish, and much of the service was spoken in both languages as well. An emotional climax came when Arminda Lopez, Eddie’s mother, addressed the parents in the church with a shaking voice: “Cuiden a sus hijos. No quiero que nadie siente como estoy sintiendo ahora. Take care of your sons. I don’t want anyone to feel how I’m feeling right now.”Torgerson thanked the gathered mourners for “reaching out,” and acknowledged the 1,300 people who attended Friday night’s viewing and rosary. He named Maria Shriver, the state’s first lady, as one of the attendees, and emphasized that she came “not as a politician, but as a mother. Eddie received communion with her son eight years ago in this church.” Torgerson also acknowledged the diversity of the crowd, which seemed to contain the entire sophomore class. He noted that love had brought us together, and wanted us to unite to “bring justice to our city, not vengeance.”Following the funeral, buses took students with the processional from the church to the graveside service, and after that to a reception in the Santa Monica High School Cafeteria.SMMUSD school board member Oscar de la Torre, who attended the funeral, shared the ideas he gained from the tragedy: “A line has to be drawn. On one side are those that stand for peace and life, and on the other side are those who support hate and violence. We must all ask ourselves what side of the line we are on.” De la Torre, a hero of the Santa Monica Latino community, continued, “The passing of Eddie has inspired the community to seek real solutions, and we need to keep this momentum going. The time for talking has passed. The time for action is now.”
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