BRONX, N.Y. — Pop star Jennifer Lopez, widely known as J Lo, visited Holy Cross Church here, as she and her family said goodbye to grandmother, Julia Rodriguez, 94, at a funeral Mass Oct. 23.
She was accompanied by her husband, singer Marc Anthony, mother, Guadalupe Lopez, and two sisters, who gave the eulogies.
Todd Carpenter, OFM, pastor, said he only recognized the name of J Lo last minute, when a church receptionist saw her mother’s name as next of kin on the next day’s funeral list. “We have many funerals here and literally dozens of families with the family names Rodriguez and Lopez,” he said.
J Lo grew up in the neighborhood surrounding the church, as described in her 2002 song, “Jenny from the Block.” She and her family are members of nearby Holy Family Church.
“Although her grandmother was not registered at Holy Cross, she lived near our church and would frequently attend Mass here,” said Todd. “I never met her, since she had not been coming to Mass lately because of her age and declining health.” J Lo apparently was close to her grandmother, he said, and returned from a tour in California for the funeral.
Approximately 100 people attended the Mass, according to Todd, which he described as prayerful and contemplative. It was celebrated by diocesan priest Fr. Daniel Kearney, a family friend and pastor at Holy Family.
The church carefully kept the media and photographers from the Mass. Jennifer and Marc Anthony arrived just prior to the Mass through the side entrance, according to Todd, and greeted family members. After the funeral, all departed quietly. The grandmother was cremated.
The music was offered by the church’s regular organist, who did not seem fazed to play before one of the world’s best-known singers. “When I told him that he would be playing for the grandmother of a famous entertainer, married to another famous entertainer, he said he had once seen actress Meryl Streep at a funeral where he played. ‘Now, Meryl Streep is a real celebrity,’ he laughed.”
Todd was able to meet with J Lo and Marc Anthony, and offer his condolences.
“Here in the Bronx, Jennifer is the local hero. So, that’s our excitement for the day,” Todd smiles.