Welcome Father Richard Estrada!

On March 31, 2014 Museum of Social Justice Board of Directors President, Norma Kachigian and Executive Director, Leonora Barron welcomed new board member, Father Richard Estrada to his first board meeting.

Father Richard Estrada was born and raised as a Roman Catholic in East Los Angeles.

Catholic grammar and high school kept Father Estrada from joining local gangs. While he attended Our Lady of Lourdes and Cantwell High school he realized his vocation to serve God. He graduated from Garfield High and entered the US Army before deciding to enter the Claretians Missionary Order of Priests.

Father Estrada graduated from the University of San Francisco and went on to special religious studies at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley. As a seminarian student he chose to work with the poor communities. He interned as a Chaplain assistant at San Quentin California State Prison. As a young priest in Los Angeles, he became chaplain of the L.A. county Juvenile Hall, and began to form and teach laypersons to serve as bilingual Spanish volunteer chaplains for the 1200 incarcerated youth. In his first parish assignment in East Los Angeles, he was sent to be trained as a Community Organizer with the Industrial Areas Foundation, and became the chairman of the youth United Neighborhood Organization Gang Committee (UNO). It was through forming community leaders from various religious institutions that the Community Youth Gang Services began as the first intervention program in the L.A. County.

Father Estrada established an organization to meet the social, spiritual, and education needs of homeless youth. The goal was to keep them safe from the mean streets of L.A. And Hollywood. Twenty-five years ago he started Jovenes, Inc. and that has become a premier organization in the Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles area. This organization successfully serves 2,500 youth each year through wrap around services.

Father Estrada has been an Ordained Catholic priest for 36 year and served at La Placita for 20 years in two different terms. He collaborated with many human rights and immigrant rights groups through these years. Many events were planned in the church basement including the first huge Immigration march in 2006.

He is affiliated with LA- Clergy United For Economic Justice (CLUE), Interfaith Communities United For Justice and Peace (ICUJP), and president of the Board of Directors of Jovenes, Inc. He also serves on two other Boards of organizations dedicated to promoting justice and culture, and he is a representative in the Historical Cultural Neighborhood Council.

Currently, he is transitioning his role as a Catholic Priest to being an Episcopalian Priest. He has been recognized in KCET’s Local Hero-Hispanic Heritage Month.

Father Estrada upheld, “It is by our shared commitment to be living reminders of God’s Compassion and love for the poor that we become fully human.”  

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