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Cesar Chavez: The Next Catholic Saint?

Cesar Chavez Foundation

People from all over the country are celebrating the life of Cesar Chavez today. He would have turned 88. Now as FM89’s Diana Aguilera explains, some are also using the late labor leader’s birthday to bring back a movement to make Chavez a Catholic saint.

Supporters of the civil rights activist say the canonization of Cesar Chavez is not a far-fetched idea. This past weekend at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in San Jose, where Chavez once lived, Father Jon Pedigo renewed the call for sainthood. He says Chavez performed miracles of social change worthy of a saint.

"He is owned by humanity in a sense and I think that's the power of what a saint does. He's able to move beyond the narrow parameter of his history." -Father Jon Pedigo

“Through Cesar’s life people have been moved to get engaged,” Pedigo says. “He is owned by humanity in a sense and I think that’s the power of what a saint does. He’s able to move beyond the narrow parameter of his history.”

Family members of Chavez, including nephew Rudy Chavez Medina, were present during Pedigo’s call. He says even though his uncle wasn’t about accolades he still supports the movement.

“From a personal perspective it would be a great honor if the Catholic Church, the pope, the Vatican decided to go ahead and look at least a different approach of canonization and if Cesar met those requirements we would be all for it.”

The Catholic Diocese of San Jose could not be reached for comment.

Supporters say the process of officially declaring someone a saint could start with a popular movement like this one. But Father Pedigo says it’s difficult since it requires a lengthy investigation by the Catholic Church.

“We can’t even get to that process until there’s some kind of petition that is listed to the Vatican that this person should be considered for sainthood.”

This is not the first time sainthood has been proposed for Chavez. An earlier movement that started in the Bay Area in 2007 was unsuccessful due to opposition from the Diocese of Fresno. But Father Pedigo says this may not be the case anymore because of Chavez' ongoing impact on the farm worker community. 

Diana Aguilera is a multimedia reporter native of Santiago, Chile. It was during her childhood in Santiago where her love for journalism sparked. Diana moved to Fresno while in her teens and is a proud graduate of California State University, Fresno. While earning her degree in journalism and minor in Latin American studies, Diana worked for the Fresno Bee. Her work as a general assignment reporter continued after college and was recognized by the California Newspaper Publishers Association. In 2014, she joined Valley Public Radio. Her hobbies include yoga, traveling and reading.