Ministries throughout Holy Name Province, especially those with strong ties to the Latino community, celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe this month.
The feast honoring the patroness of the Americas is officially recognized on Dec. 12, marking the anniversary of Our Lady of Guadalupe appearing before Juan Diego in December 1531. Diego was a Mexican peasant, and after being spoken to in his native language by the vision, he inspired a strong connection between Mary and Hispanic Catholics, which has led to the naming of villages, towns and cities after Mary.
In the year 1531, when the Virgin Mary appeared near Mexico City, there was no such place as Guadalupe in Mexico, according to George Corrigan, OFM, who wrote about Guadalupe on his blog, Friar Musings. “Guadalupe is the name of an area, a city, a river and a Marian shrine in Spain,” he said. “The word itself comes from a mixture of Arabic and Latin roots.”
In the North
One of the many commemorations around Holy Name Province took place in Western New York, where St. Bonaventure University Ministries teamed up with the Latin American Student Organization for a bilingual Fiesta de Guadalupe Mass on Dec. 13. It was followed by a late night breakfast in the dining hall on the Allegany campus, according to a press release. The celebration tied into finals week at St. Bonaventure, with the annual blessing of the brains following the festivities.
In northern New Jersey, a joint celebration at two parishes — St. Anthony in Butler and St. Mary in Pompton Lakes — involved roughly 150 parishioners, including dozens of children dressed as Juan Diego and women wearing traditional Mexican clothing, accompanying an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe through the towns of Butler, Bloomingdale, and Riverdale. They finished in Pompton Lakes with a bilingual Mass celebrated by pastor Frank Sevola, OFM, according to parochial vicar Gonzalo Torres, OFM. Photos were included on the Facebook page of St. Anthony’s Guild.
In Camden, N.J., the St. Anthony of Padua Parish community gathered at 4:30 a.m. to sing Las Mañanitas, a traditional birthday serenade, to Mary, and entered the church to hear a mariachi band, according to an article written by two Franciscan Volunteer Ministers who are stationed in Camden: Troy Hillman and Marisabel Alonso. A Spanish Mass followed a celebration of food and dancing in the church basement.
In Wilmington, Del., feast celebrations for St. Paul’s Parish began on Dec. 4 with the welcoming of the Guadalupe torch, which made its way from Mexico City to New York City, accompanied by 30 runners who traveled with it from the Maryland/Delaware border to St. Paul’s, according to pastor Todd Carpenter, OFM. The torch departed the following morning.
On Dec. 11 and 12, St. Paul’s was decorated beautifully, Todd said, and the church’s image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was surrounded by hundreds of roses to provide a backdrop for the rosary and Mass each day, attended by roughly 1,600 people. Both Masses began and ended with traditional Mexican dancers. After Mass, parishioners enjoyed tamales, atole, hot chocolate and other Mexican delights.
In North Carolina, St. Francis of Assisi Church in Raleigh, the parish, which has a small community of immigrants from Mexico, held a Mass to celebrate Our Lady on Dec. 11.
“We had a mixture of young and old, and near the altar were two beautiful paintings of Our Lady of Guadalupe done by a member of the parish,” said Steven Patti, OFM, pastor of the parish since 2014. “The singing was beautiful, and afterward the crowd mingled a while and went on their way.”
Also on Friday, Immaculate Conception Church in Durham organized a service to bless a statue of Mary to be used in a procession the next day and prayed the rosary, according to Christopher VanHaight, OFM, pastor. That night, the main statue in the church was adorned with thousands of roses and flowers as parishioners arrived to sing tributes to her in a period known as “pre-mañanitas.” A midnight prayer began the official period of mañanitas, which led to early morning praise that included mariachi bands and “danzantes”: young people dressed in native costumes dancing with indigenous movements.
Christopher presided in Spanish at a 4 a.m. Mass for 1,000 parishioners, followed by a breakfast. Additional Masses in English and Spanish were celebrated on the actual feast day upon the continuation of flowers being placed at the statue.
“The devotion of the parishioners to Our Lady of Guadalupe is truly inspirational,” Christopher said.
On the eve of the feast day, children of St. Peter Claver Parish in Macon, Ga., presented the five apparitions of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The feast day celebration started with a procession led by a large statue of Mary, followed by the “dance of the Aztecas.”
The children of the parish, where HNP friars have been stationed since September, dressed in typical Mexican dress, the miriachis, altar servers, the priests, deacon and the people, said Sr. Grace Calvis, DC, who provided a photo collage. Afterward, a Mass was offered, followed by “convivo,” a celebration of food, music and dancing.
— Mary Best is a Western New York-based writer and a graduate of St. Bonaventure University.