December 12, 2011: The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Sr. Ana Maria Corona
I work in one of the parishes in the Fall River Diocese with a Hispanic community: The St Joseph Parish, Attleboro, MA hosts a small Latino group and I serve as a Pastoral Associate, so last week I went with them and other sisters of my Community to the annual Mass in honor to our Blessed Mother Mary.
The annual observance generally rotates among the seven Hispanic parishes in the diocese.
With a growing number of Hispanic cultures moving into the area, the Spanish language Masses are among the most popular non-English services in the diocese, second only to Portuguese In Fall River. The older generation of Hispanics is mainly from Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, while other more recent arrivals are from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador, Colombia and Mexico.
The annual celebration commemorates the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary to St. Juan Diego in December 1531. One of the earliest documented Marian apparitions, Our Lady of Guadalupe remains one of the most well celebrated and well-recognized iconic images of the Blessed Mother alongside her subsequent appearances in La Salette, France (1846); Lourdes, France (1858); and Fatima, Portugal (1917).
This year the celebration was held at Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. James Church in New Bedford, with Bishop George W. Coleman as the principal celebrant. There were other priests from the different parishes. The celebration began at 6:30 p.m. and the Church was overflowing . The Mass was bilingual, in English and Spanish, with the participation of the diocesan Spanish choir. The voices of the faithful sounded full of fervor and joy at the rhythm of the “la Guadalupana.” After Mass, we had a delicious banquet accompanied by Latino music appropriate for the occasion including different cultural folklore and presentations.
Our Lady’s message to Juan Diego was a simple mission of evangelization: a call to bring the inhabitants of the then-New World to the Catholic faith. She was proclaimed the patroness of “New Spain” by Pope Benedict XIV in 1754 and then as “Queen of Mexico” by Pope Pius XII in 1946 and Blessed Pope John Paul II, who had a well-known personal devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, proclaimed Our Lady of Guadalupe as the “Empress of America” on Jan. 22, 1999 and personally dedicated a chapel within St. Peter’s Basilica in her honor.
Being able to participate in this Marian celebration is always a joy and a blessing because she helps us to get closer to our Lord and because she is the Mother of God and our blessed Mother.