Earlier this week, Hispanic Catholics gathered around the Camden Diocese in song, dance, and prayer to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe, and give praise and thanks to the Blessed Virgin Mary
Starting their festivities a few days before the official feast day, Dec. 12, worshippers here in the diocese joined others around the world to remember Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of Americas, who appeared to Juan Diego in 1531 in Mexico City, and instructed him to build a church in her honor.
Our Lady of Guadalupe “has a great attraction” to Catholics, said Father Jaime Hostios, parochial vicar at Our Lady Star of the Sea Parish in Atlantic City. As the Catholic Star Herald went to press, his community was starting a three-day celebration, from Wednesday to Friday, with a Mass in honor of Juan Diego, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, a festival in the school gym, and a serenade to the Blessed Mother complete with a mariachi performance.
On Dec. 12, a procession was planned with religious icons, dancers, and costumed children as famous saints through the streets of Atlantic City. Two Masses, one in the church and one in the school gym, to accommodate the expected large crowds, was to follow the procession.
Bishop Dennis Sullivan was scheduled to celebrate an 11 p.m. Spanish Vigil Mass at St. Lawrence Church, Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Shrine, in Lindenwold, on Dec. 11. The next day, the church was to precede the 7 p.m. Mass with Marian songs.
At Holy Cross Parish in Bridgeton, an outdoor procession planned for Thursday night was to start at Immaculate Conception Church, and end at St. Teresa Church, where children were to re-enact the Virgin Mary’s appearance to Juan Diego. Parishioners are expected to worship Our Lady of Guadalupe through song late into the night. The next day, there will be a 6 a.m. Mass followed by a relay race from St. Mary Magdalen Church in Millville, to Holy Cross.
The feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is “a big deal” not only to Mexican Catholics, but to all Hispanic Catholics, as patroness, said Father David Rivera, parochial vicar at Holy Cross Parish.
In Northfield, worshippers will gather at St. Gianna Beretta Molla Parish Sunday for a 1 p.m, Mass in Spanish, and a fiesta with a mariachi band.