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Faces of the Community

About the Project

In early 2015, I had the opportunity to complete a documentary project, Faces of the Community, which engaged the local community from Our Lady of Guadalupe (Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe) Parish in Ontario, CA. Through a sequence of personal one-on-one interviews, I was introduced to the diverse personalities and rich life experiences of individual members of the parish. The interviews concluded in a small graphite portrait of each individual which were displayed in 2015 at the Chaffey Community Museum of Art and then again in 2016 at the Ontario Museum of History and Art in conjunction with the 125th anniversary of the city. This project was a collaboration between CCMA and the Ontario Museum of History and Art with funding by The Community Foundation. 

In September 2015, the Ontario Museum of History & Art, Associates was awarded a second grant from The Community Foundation to publish the Faces of the Community project into a book. Many thanks and gratitude are extended to all who helped make this project possible. 


Many thanks are extended to the staff and volunteers at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Chaffey Community Museum of Art, Ontario Museum of History and Art staff and Director John Worden, the staff at the Ontario Museum of History and Arts Associates, Rudy Ontiveros and Solly Daza of the Ovitt Family Community Library, (for their Spanish language translations). And a very special thank you to all the project participants for their time and stories.

Mary Helen Armijo

5x7" Graphite on Bristol. 2015

Mary Helen was born in Dallas, Texas in 1930 and moved toCalifornia at the age of 16.  She was marrieda few months later and has since lived in the surrounding neighbor hoods onCalifornia St., Campus Ave. and Ralston. She devoted her service to the parishfor over 30 years and was employed by the Diocese for 13 years working in the churchoffice. She remembers when the church moved to its current location in 1948,and how she would bring the volunteer construction workers beers after a hardday at work. Mary Helen taught catechism for many years and remembers an occasionwhere a student ran out during the lecture. She chased after him and was ableto catch him, keeping him in her class. Before working for the church, MaryHelen was a homemaker who volunteered at Euclid Elementary School in the cub scoutsand baseball. When her children grew older, she enrolled in Richards BeautyCollege and graduated as an award-winning student from the program. Sheeventually opened her own salon for several years called “Mar-tones HairFashions” on the corner of Holt and Laurel Street. Mary Helen is now fullyretired and reminisces on her decades at the parish, the different priests sheworked with and the church retreats where she chaperoned many children. Manypeople remember her fondly as a second mother. 

Carlos Paez

5x7" Graphite on Bristol. 2015

Carlos Paez was born in Jalisco, Mexico and has been aresident of Ontario since 1984. He has been an active member of the parish forover thirty years. He enjoys every aspect of the church – serving the parish,connecting with other members and attending traditional festivities. Heparticipates in the weekly masses as part of the group of Eucharist and isactive in the prayer group held every Tuesday. In the 1980s, Carlos was thesubject a documentary by a local reporter of the Daily Bulletin, where his lifeas an immigrant was captured on film. In 2000, he became a naturalized citizen ofthe Unites States. Carlos enjoys spending time with his family, living anactive lifestyle through sports and exercise, and baking cakes with his teenagedaughter.

Carmen Hernandez

5x7" Graphite on Bristol. 2015

Carmen has lived in the Ontario area since the early age of12 or 13 years. At the time the community was known as Guasti – an area coveredby eight blocks of vineyards, on the modern day grounds of the Ontario Airport.Guasti was a small self-sustained agricultural community that included stores,houses, schools and churches for the migrant workers. Amongst many other memories,Carmen vividly recalls the discrimination towards immigrant students in schoolduring the 1960s by other pupils (including first generation Mexican Americansand Chicanos) and her fear of attending public school. She also remembers many otherwell-known aspects of the time such as the gangsters and car cruisers, the big beehivehairstyles, miniskirts and hot pants that were in fashion. After her husbandpassed away in 1999, Carmen searched for deeper spiritual guidance and a way tocope with her grief by devoting her time and service to the church. She hasbeen a member of the parish for over 50 years and is involved in variousvolunteer groups. She enjoys taking painting classes at the Armstrong CommunityCenter and shares her talents with the parish by painting designs on the drapesin the temple. 

Sergio Pedroza

5x7" Graphite on Bristol. 2015

Sergio Pedroza was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and came tothe U.S. as a young adult in pursuit of the American Dream. He resided in theSan Gabriel Valley before moving to Ontario in 1989, in search of a saferneighborhood and better schools for his daughters. His wife was employed by theDiocese and was an active volunteer at the parish for many years. When shepassed away he decided to continue her legacy by giving back to the communitythrough volunteer services. Sergio coordinates weekly rehearsals for weekend ceremoniessuch as weddings, baptisms, and communions. He is active as a lector, isinvolved in the weekly prayer group, and in the Ministry of Eucharist. In thepast he assembled a group for social activism and arranged for attorneys to offerlegal counsel on immigration reform. His group succeeded in creating open dialoguesand town hall meetings with the local law enforcement. He hopes to find theresources and manpower to revive this group again. Sergio acknowledges the significantimpact the church has on the lives of its members - instilling good morals,values, and confidence in the youth, to create good citizens that willcontribute to the community at large.  

Maria Guadalupe Gamboa

5x7" Graphite on Bristol. 2015

Maria Guadalupe was born in Chihuahua, Mexico and immigrated to California 25 years ago.  She lived in Baldwin Park for a few years before getting married and settling in Ontario. She is a proud mother devoted to her daughter and son. Guadalupe takes pleasure decorating interiors and homes. She has been a member of the parish for 10 years, when she first enrolled her children to take communion classes. Guadalupe spends countless hours seeking spiritual guidance, serving the parish in volunteer groups, and coordinating the monthly food drives for others in need. She enjoys meeting new people and learning from others. Amongst other siblings, Guadalupe has a twin brother who currently lives in Mexico.

Anahi Gamboa

5x7" Graphite on Bristol. 2015

Anahi works as an office assistant at the church office. Shehas lived in Ontario and has been a member of the church her entire life. She isa full-time student at the University of La Verne where she studies in the Radioand Broadcasting program. Anahi is active in the parish as a lector and servesas the youth group coordinator, organizing the weekly meetings for teenagers. Herjob at the church has allowed her to develop positive relationships and gain mentorshipfrom her co-workers and the priests. She treasures the senseof community, friendliness, and the welcoming environment the church provides.In her spare time she enjoys going to the movies and trying out new restaurantswith her best friend.

Alma Magallanes

5x7" Graphite on Bristol. 2015

Alma Delia Magallanes Lopez grew up in Ontario, CA attendingOur Lady of Guadalupe parish with her family since she can remember. She hasbeen employed as the church secretary for the last 6 years - a profession shefinds challenging, rewarding and fulfilling. Working at the church officeallows her social personality to help others and she takes pleasure organizing numerousevents for the parish. Outside of the office, Alma is heavily involved in manychurch activities. In her free time she keeps busy by attending the weeklyservices, participating in the church choir, playing in the church soccer tournaments,and spending time with her 7-year-old son, Israel Gamino. She enjoys practicingher Catholic faith and sharing her spiritual gifts with others.

Father Pavol

5x7" Graphite on Bristol. 2015

Father Pavol was born in the former Czechoslovakia duringthe communist reign. In his youth, while serving as an altar boy and lector, hefound a strong spiritual connection to the church and an escape to the communistopposition. He studied the formation of the priesthood in Germany, where helived for nine years. After his first year of priesthood, he spent eight years deepin the jungles of Columbia during the civil war, protecting and preserving thelifestyles of the natives. While living with the natives he had the opportunityto experience a different culture, different spiritual and religiousceremonies, and arts. After living in Columbia, Father Pavol moved to anotherparish in San Bernardino, California where he lived and served as a priest fortwo years before arriving in Ontario. He has served this parish for the last 4½ years and enjoys living in this community, as it gives him the opportunity tomeet a variety of interesting people with unique personalities. Father Pavol relaxesby playing soccer, skiing, and reading, and is an avid art enthusiast who appreciatesgoing to museums. 

Juan Reza

5x7" Graphite on Bristol. 2015

Juan was born in Guerrero, Mexico and traveledto the Unites States in the 1980s looking for better work opportunities. Hespent several years working in Chicago where he met Leonila, and were marriedin 1982. In 1986 after attaining Amnesty, he brought his wife and son toOntario, CA. Juan reminisces on his life experiences - from pickingstrawberries and oranges in the fields, working in a plastics factory, and otherfactory jobs in other states including Florida and Wisconsin. He is proud ofhis accomplishments and remembers his humble begging – a small farm boy who grewup poor, worked seven days a week to get ahead, and attain his share of theAmerican Dream. He has been a church parishioner since 1989, where he instantlyfelt welcomed and at home by the same religious traditions practiced in thechurches of Mexico. 

Leonila Reza

5x7" Graphite on Bristol. 2015

Leonlia was born in Guerrero,Mexico and grew up in the town of Dolores. While working at a plastics factoryin Chicago, she met Juan, and they married in 1982. She returned to live in Mexicofor a few years while her husband worked in California. After her husbandattained Amnesty she moved permanently to Ontario, California with her infantson. In 1990 her second son was born. Leonila maintained her Catholic traditionand baptized both of her sons at this church. She has felt at home since thefirst day she attended services in 1989, appreciates that sermons are offeredin Spanish. When she is not busy working, she enjoys spending time with her singlegrandson and attending the sacred events at the church. 

Cesar Martinez

5x7" Graphite on Bristol. 2015

Cesar was born inGuanajuato, Mexico and immigrated to the Unites States when he was 11 yearsold. When his family was travelling to California they were involved in atragic car accident that killed his dad and brother. Since an early age Cesarfelt the need to work very hard to support his family. He graduated from highschool in 3.5 years and was accepted into the Social Work program at San JoseState University, where he received his BA. In 2000 Cesar became a naturalizedcitizen and obtained his Masters degree in 2002. During grad school Cesar methis wife, who had grown up in Ontario and they decided to make it their homewhen she landed a job here. After arriving in this community, Cesar and hiswife searched for an opportunity to offer their time and volunteer service toothers. Ultimately they found themselves at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish, werethey have been helping for the last 10 years. Cesar works as an AttendanceCounselor at a high school in Los Angeles, a profession that allows him to helpand council the youth. At the parish he has taught First Communion andConfirmation classes. He emphasizes the importance of community involvement inhis students and enjoys the new ideas and energy they bring.

Celio Ruvalcaba

5x7" Graphite on Bristol. 2015

Celiowas born a premature baby in Jalisco, Mexico, a condition doctors thought wouldhinder his developmental abilities. When he was 8 years old his family moved toOntario, California where he has lived for the past 25 years. Celio has grownup in this parish with his volunteer service begging at the age of 16. Hisfather passed away when he was young, causing him to become depressed and sociallywithdrawn. By joining the prayer group, Celio was able to open up and developmore interaction with others. He attended Chaffey College and then transferredto Cal Poly Pomona pursuing a degree in Landscape Architecture. As a universitystudent, he faced an uphill battle, as he juggled the demands of school andworking long hours to support his family financially. Ultimately he preservedand accomplished his goal of getting a Bachelors degree. Celiovolunteers at the parish by serving in the church council. He also volunteersat the Archdioceses in Los Angeles - teaching bible study, Catholic philosophyand the doctrines. In his free time, when he is not taking care of his mother,he enjoys being in the outdoors - camping, hiking and playing sports. Celio aspiresto return to school to study theology, which he feels is his true calling.

Laura Salazar

5x7" Graphite on Bristol. 2015

Laura wasborn and raised in Ontario and remembers growing up in this parish where herfamily brought her as a young child. After she graduated from Chaffey HighSchool she began volunteering at St. George, as a catechist and was eventuallyoffered a job as church secretary at Our Lady of Guadalupe parish. She has beenemployed at the parish for the last 5 years where she is in charge of theadministrative operations for the office. Laura has many positive memories ofthe parish, but the most profound impact was her religious education and sheloves running into former peers from her classes. She is a dedicated mother toher two children and is excited to welcome her third child she is expecting.

Catalina Santos                                                         

5x7" Graphite on Bristol. 2015

Catalinawas born in Oaxaca, Mexico and came to the United States at the age of 15.Since her arrival, Our Lady of Guadalupe has been her home. She has playedsoccer in the church league for nine years, practicing every Wednesday atAnthony Munoz Park. For the last four years she has devoted her time and serviceto the church helping in all possible ways– from cleaning, assisting withbuilding maintenance, decorating, arranging the altars and anything else shecan offer. Outside of this parish, she also volunteers at the popular annual fiestasof San Lorenzo in San Fernando/North Hollywood. Catalina studies BusinessManagement at Mt. San Antonio College and strives to be a good role model forher daughter, Joelina.

Rosa Magallanes

5x7" Graphite on Bristol. 2015

Rosa lefther hometown of Jalisco, Mexico in 1980 to come to California. She spent herfirst few months living in Redlands, and then moved to Ontario looking forwork. She has been a member of the parish since 1980 when she was drawn in bythe Spanish worship services. Rosa worked for many years at a shoe warehouseand at the Hershey company packing chocolates. She is currently involved in theprayer group and enjoys visiting the sick in their homes, offering comfort. Inthe last four years she has sang in one of the choir groups, where she was sentto take voice lessons at a church in Hollywood for a year. Rosa enjoys the environmentat Our Lady of Guadalupe, as it follows many of the traditions of the churchesin Mexico. She especially loves the large courtyard where one can sit andcongregate with friends after the services. She enjoys having coffee with otherparishioners and the priests. 

Patricia Macias

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Patricia was born in Nuevo Leon, Mexico and moved to LosAngeles in 1975 where she lived for nine years. In 1986, she bought a house inPomona, which she later sold, and moved to Ontario in 1991. Patricia is thecoordinator for the Rosary group held every day at 3:00 PM. She has been amember of the parish for many years and has developed good friendships with allthe priests. She also coordinates an Emotional Anonymous support group, led bya trained psychiatrist to help people cope with their emotions through the 12-stepprogram. She hosts weekly movie nights at her home, where parishioners watchfilms based on real life challenges. Patricia is looking for the opportunity tostart a women’s mentoring group, so she can help abused and mistreated women valuetheir self-worth, and instill confidence. After she retires from her professionas a licensed Real Estate agent, she hopes to open a restaurant so others canenjoy her cooking and family recipes.

Martha Guzman

5x7" Graphite on Bristol. 2015

Martha has been attending Our Lady of Guadalupe parishsince she enrolled her son in youth classes 25 years ago. Her volunteer servicefor the Catholic Church began many decades ago when she lived in her hometownof Guadalajara, Mexico. She is involved in the Eucharist group, has devotedtime to visit the sick, and enjoys decorating the church for special events. Sheattends the masses regularly and can be found almost every day the church. Marthaenjoys the traditional pueblo feel of this parish, the warm environment, andsocializing with others. Her service at the church has given her great fulfillment. 

Carmen Cortez

5x7" Graphite on Bristol. 2015

Carmen was born in Jerez, Zacatecas, Mexico and lived inTijuana for 11 years before moving to California. In 1960, she arrived inOntario to live with parents on Park Street. In 1973, she became involved inthe parish starting as a lector, eventually joining the church choir where shesings every Sunday since 1975. One day when Carmen was enrolling her son in school,she saw another family struggling with the language barrier while trying to communicatewith the office staff. She stepped in to help, and the person at the frontoffice gave her an application for a job at the school. Carmen applied and wasimmediately hired by the Ontario-Montclair School District, where she hasworked for the last 33 years as an instructional aide. Since 1975, Carmen singswith her husband and a friend in their group “El Romantico Trio Fantasia” atprivate events, weddings, and parties. Recently she has started learning to paintlandscape paintings. Carmen is looking forward to a retirement where she canpursue painting, singing and traveling. 


5x7" Graphite on Bristol. 2015

Maximilano Zavala was born in Jalisco, Mexico where heworked as a farmer in a rural community. He began working in construction atthe age of 20, and would eventually make frequent trips to work in Californiaas a seasonal migrant worker. His volunteer service to the church began inMexico, where served at a parish in San Julian, Jalisco. In 1992 after twentyyears of traveling back and forth, he brought his family to live with him in California.He spent 5 years as a Eucharist in Los Angeles before arriving at Our Lady ofGuadalupe. Max serves as a Catechist, coordinator of the weekly prayer group,and on the pastoral council, helping plan events for the church. He is alsoinvolved in the theatre group that performs during religious events. He enjoys workingwith the community and helping people he meets with his faith. After working 13years for a construction company, he retired and runs his own contractor business.

Efren Diaz

5x7" Graphite on Bristol. 2015

Efren Diazwas born in Michoacan, Mexico and moved to Corona, California with his familyat the age of 15. He lived there for six years before moving to Ontario in 1988.  Efren has been a member of the parish for 10years, and became heavily involved 7 years ago. He leads the weekly prayergroup, which has a regular following of over 90 participants. He also teachesclasses for the parents while their children attend catechism on Fridays andSaturdays. Efren currently works for a landscaping company and devotes all hisfree time to serving the parish. He is grateful for the guidance and supportthe priests provide, and their attentiveness to the community’s needs. Hisinvolvement in the parish has allowed him to meet many interesting people, organizesocial gatherings and festivities, and become a better person. He aspires tobecome a deacon and assist the priests.

Thank you to all who helped make this project a success.

Ontario Museum of History & Art

Ontario Museum of History & Art enhances knowledge and understanding of our community through dynamic and vibrant experiences. More...

Chaffey Community Museum of Art

Community art gallery started in 1941 displaying contemporary pieces by regional artists. More...

The Community Foundation

Strengthening Inland Southern California through Philanthropy

The Community Foundation is a nonprofit charity serving the people of Riverside and San Bernardino Counties through grants and scholarships. More info.

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