At Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City on Thursday, there was a viewing and rosary for the lady who many in this city of 40,000 plus considered to be a most incredible and wonderful human being. I am one of them.
I came to know Ursula Vera by way of my many visits to Sorrento's market, similar to many others who visited the shop while hunting for good grub. But I was as nourished by her warm and gentle spirit as I was by the food that is known around town.
At the viewing, Mrs. Vera looked beautiful—and perhaps more important—at peace. Most people would tremble at the long, brutal road of pain and suffering that she had to endure due to her failing kidneys. Ursula was blessed with movie-star type beauty, but perhaps her most formidable attribute was that she was in possession of a type of courage that only a lion could relate to. She fought, and fought, and fought the good fight. But God decided to call her home.
Judging by the attendance at both services on Thursday, it was apparent that all who were present recognized her love and loyalty that she had consistently shown to her family, friends, and the Culver City community as a whole. At the conclusion of the rosary, most in the audience went over to express their love and support for Albert Jr., who graciously thanked all of them.
Friday’s funeral at St. Augustine church was packed with members of the parish, employees and civil servants and individuals of every age, race and religion who came to honor the woman who lit up Sorrento’s Market off of Sepulveda, which was her family business.
Pastor Rev. Kevin Nolan led the mass, and mentioned that he could testify, as a witness by way of conversation with Ursula, that Ursula first came to St. Augustine to find God’s consolation, and to trust in His resurrection. “And not just the final resurrection, but the resurrection over every hardship and struggle in life. Ursula trusted in the victory of God, and she allowed that gift of trust to be part of her words in the hope that she shared with others. She always had that sense of wanting others to be lifted up to know joy.
“Even in the midst of a terrible disease that inflicted brutal pain on her own body, she was always looking to see, ‘How are you? How can I lift you up and bring a smile to your face? She was a woman of faith, a woman of the paschal mystery,” Nolan said.
Diane Huseby sang as though she was borrowed from St. Peter’s gates, delivering beautiful renditions of “Channel of Your Peace,” “Be Not Afraid,” and “On Eagles’ Wings.” Organist Susan Lim played in perfect harmony along with Huseby. After the funeral at St. Augustine, mourners went back to Holy Cross Cemetery for the internment of Mrs. Vera, where she was laid to rest next to her late husband, Albert, a man that she honored with her loving devotion during his life.
It was an unforgettable event, a time to honor a matriarch that was a blessing to Culver City during her life. Her legacy will remain long after she is gone.