MORGAN HOOVER, NEWS-PRESS CORRESPONDENT
August 1, 2009 7:04 AM
A 4-year-old whose grandfather called him "a little tornado" was laid to rest on Friday following an emotional service that came nearly two weeks after the boy was allegedly killed by his mother's boyfriend.
Mourners reacted emotionally upon seeing the open casket of Diego Calles outside Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, where the youngster was remembered at a funeral service led by Father Denis Collins.
The casket was closed before being brought into the church by tearful pallbearers.
Father Collins began the service by reading scripture.
"At that time Jesus said, 'I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, you have revealed them to the child,' " he read from Matthew, drawing nods from throughout the room.
Father Collins wove the theme of forgiveness throughout his message, in which he attempted to console the family by assuring them that Diego is in heaven.
"He is face to face with God," he said.
He spoke about Ignatius, asking the congregation to find "the forgiveness available to us."
"Ignatius was a genius in his ability to. . .live in peace in a time of strife," he said.
Father Collins asked the mourners to move forward living by Ignatius's two rules.
"Live as if everything depended on you," he said, "and pray as if everything depended on God."
After his message, he said a prayer, asking for Diego's eternal life, for the family of Diego to find the grace of God, for the friends of Diego to be consoled and all parents who are grieving the loss of a child to be "comforted in the knowledge that their children will have eternal life."
"God, embrace (Diego). . .together with all children who have died," he said. "With this sacrifice. . .advance the peace on earth."
Communion was offered following this prayer, and then Diego's grandfather, Anthony Calles, approached the pulpit to speak.
"I want to thank you all for being here," he said, "not just for myself, but for the family. To see you all here gives us a lot of strength."
Mr. Calles described Diego as a vibrant little boy.
"Diego had a lot of energy just like his dad," he said. "He was a little tornado coming through the door and leaving the same way."
The grieving grandfather went on to thank friends and family members, including his son's coworkers and his niece, for support that helped Diego's family cope with their loss.
"Just to come through those days," he said, "it's been rough."
His emotions became especially visible when he began to talk about the experience of having grandchildren.
"It's like golden," he said, fighting tears. "I have two more, and those kids, I'm never going to let anything happen to them if I can help it."
He concluded by inviting those in attendance to Calvary Cemetery and then to the Eagle's Lodge to lay Diego to rest and share stories.
Law enforcement suspects that Diego was beaten over a five-day span by James Curtis Lujan, 29, boyfriend of his mother, Megan Davis. He died on July 18.
Officially, the cause of death has not yet been revealed, and a judge granted a second independent autopsy last week in response to a request by public defender Giovanni Giordani.
Mr. Lujan is charged with three felonies -- murder, assault on a child causing death and corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant. He is expected to be arraigned on Tuesday.
Donations to help the family pay for the funeral can be made at any branch of Santa Barbara Bank & Trust to the Diego Calles Memorial Fund.
Another fundraiser planned to aid the family is a barbecue on Aug. 15 at the Eagles Lodge, 923 Bath St. Prestige Hand Car Wash at 524 N. Milpas St. will also donate 15 percent of its proceeds that day to the family.