St. Mary Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on May 24 hosted a memorial Mass for Luis Valeri, the father of Portland Timbers star Diego Valeri. The elder Valeri died in Argentina April 21.

A handful of the Timbers, coaches and their families sat in a pod near the front of the cathedral. Archbishop Alexander Sample greeted Diego Valeri and other Timbers players as well as coach Giovanni Savarese. Also on hand were Auxiliary Bishop Peter Smith and Msgr. Gerard O’Connor, rector of the cathedral.

Msgr. O’Connor presided and the homily was given by Father Ignacio Llorente, pastor of St. Michael Parish in Portland and like the Valeri family an Argentinian. Father Llorente and other priests of the St. John Society have been important spiritual guides for Diego Valeri, a devoted Catholic.

Father Llorente said the star midfielder wears the number 8 out of devotion to the Virgin Mary, whose Immaculate Conception is celebrated Dec. 8.

Mary offers lessons for a time of loss, Father Llorente said.

First, she teaches by her life that sometimes we fight to change things and other times we endure trials.

Second, Mary stood at the foot of the cross with others, showing that we don’t suffer alone.

Third, the priest said, Mary and the apostle John were bound to each other in care after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Followers of Jesus, Father Llorente told listeners, become close to Mary.

He then urged Diego Valeri to pray the rosary for his father and to have Masses said, since the church believes in the mercy of God and in intercession.

Facebook viewers sent images of praying hands and hearts during the Mass.