Hundreds gather to celebrate Our Lady of Guadalupe
By Enedelia J. Obregón
Hundreds of faithful pilgrims braved the heat on Aug. 3 to show their devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe by marching in a procession around a South Austin neighborhood that culminated with a Mass at San José Parish. Bishop Joe Vásquez celebrated the Mass.
During the procession, a truck carried the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe as well as musicians who led the participants in hymns. Members of the Rosary Crusade led the rosary.
While the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is observed on Dec. 12, this diocesan-wide event was held Aug. 3 to avoid conflicting with parish events in December, said Edgar Ramírez, diocesan director of the Office of Hispanic Ministry.
“By doing this, we continue celebrating The Year of Faith, by giving witness to our neighbors of our Catholic faith and its power to bring people together –– even when it’s neither her feast day nor feast month,” he said. “That by itself is a celebration.”
The celebration was headed by the Office of Hispanic Ministry and included the Guadalupana Society, the Legion of Mary, the Cursillo Movement, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal for Spanish-speakers, the Christian Family Movement - USA, the Rosary Crusade, San José Parish and the diocesan Office of Worship.
In his bilingual homily, the bishop paraphrased remarks by Pope Francis during his visit to the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil during World Youth Day in July.
“When the church looks for Jesus, it always goes to the house of Mary and knocks on the door and asks her to show us Jesus,” the bishop said. “We look for Mary because she always takes us to Jesus.”
Bishop Vásquez said that as Catholic Christians, we need to maintain hope and be a people of hope.
“In the difficulties of life, God never leaves us,” he said. “We have to be a people of hope. Why did we process today? It’s a journey. Life has a destiny that will end one day. But we are never alone. We walk following Christ.”
He said we need to allow ourselves to be surprised by God and open our eyes to the many ways God works through us.
“We need an openness to allow ourselves to be surprised by God,” Bishop Vásquez said. “God is always working in us.”
We also need to live in joy.
“Christians are joyful, never gloomy,” the bishop said.
For those who participated, the opportunity to venerate Our Lady of Guadalupe was also an opportunity to share an important part of their culture.
Rosaura Acosta, vice president of the San José Guadalupana chapter and member of the diocesan Guadalupana council, said about 20 churches participated in the celebration. Different parishes took on different responsibilities. The host San José chapter, for example, made 500 rosaries so everyone in the procession could pray the rosary.
Acosta, 66 and the mother of seven, grandmother of 18 and great-grandmother of 10, put some of her granddaughters to work making rosaries.
The work that goes in to celebrating Our Lady of Guadalupe is both a spiritual and cultural endeavor, Acosta said.
“Nothing would have happened if our Blessed Mother had not said ‘yes’ to God,” she said. “She plays a very important part in salvation.”
The Guadalupanas are also working to ensure the next generation of faithful remember why Our Lady of Guadalupe is so important to the Hispanic culture.
“We are working with our spiritual director, Father John Boiko, to develop workshops for Religious Education staff so they can know who (Our Lady of Guadalupe) is, why she was dressed the way she was and about the apparitions. We need to teach our young people because they are not going to do it just because their parents did.”
Eva Barrón, secretary for the diocesan Guadalupana Council, said for her and her family, the devotion is central to the Mexican culture. She noted that the Virgin’s apparition to San Juan Diego on the Hill of Tepeyac near Mexico City in 1531 is the only one in which she left an image.
“She had never done this anywhere else,” Barrón said of the image she left on San Juan Diego’s cloak. “Part of our role as Catholics is to bring people closer to our faith –– to Jesus. And that’s exactly why she came, to draw people to her son. She is a great evangelizer.”
Barrón said she is pleased the anti-abortion movement carries images of Our Lady of Guadalupe since she is Protectress of the Unborn and also Patroness of the Americas.
“In her image she is shown wearing a belt,” Barrón said. “In the Aztec culture, that indicates she is pregnant. It shows that life is precious and a gift from God.”