SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The San Jose community gathered by the hundreds on Friday, for the funeral mass of Maria Marcelo. The beloved community activist and faith leader was fatally struck by a car, last Wednesday night. She was hit while leading a prayer procession.
San Jose has reached a record number of traffic deaths this year. However, more than statistics, loved ones are making sure Marcelo's legacy will be one that lasts.
Even in her passing, Marcelo continues to bring people together. At San Jose's Sacred Heart of Jesus Parish on Friday, it was standing room only for her funeral mass.
"It's overwhelming, right? If we find a perfect word, it's 'overwhelming,'" Marcelo's daughter, who is also named Maria, said.
Maria Angelina Hernandez Marcelo, described the days since the tragedy that took her mother. The outpouring of support is not only helping the family through their grief, but it's also highlighting the widely felt impact of her mother's work.
"I know growing up, you always want to be like your mom," Hernandez Marcelo said. "But it's cool to know that there's other people as well that really think that what she was doing was worth time."
Marcelo's friend and Healing Grove Health Center coworker Brett Bymaster said, "Working on crime in the community, prostitution, drugs. She's worked on helping families suffering with domestic violence and addiction. She's even served extensively in the homeless camps in our community."
Marcelo's outreach brought Mayor Sam Liccardo, SJPD Chief Anthony Mata and hundreds more to Friday's mass.
"Thanks to the Lord for Maria," the priest said before the crowd. "As a wonderful gift for her family, for her friends, and for our community."
For all she's done, family and friends are now advocating to rename the Washington United Youth Center to the Maria Marcelo Youth Center.
"But it also implies a lot of work," Hernandez Marcelo said. "We want to make sure that the youth center is utilized properly. We want to make sure that it isn't changed to her name, then forgotten. It's about building a legacy and building something that she would be proud of."
Beyond a name change, there's also a sense of a community-wide challenge to make a difference, and to live like Marcelo.
"Fighting for something that you know is better. It's something we should all strive for," Hernandez Marcelo shared. "It's part of her faith. It's part of who she is. But it's also characteristics that we could all build up."
She added, "If we all tried to be like her, this world would be so much better."
Healing Grove Health Center shared a link to Maria Marcelo Memorial Community Fund. Click here for more information.
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