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Bishop Burbidge celebrates Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass

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Hundreds of Hispanic Catholics congregated at St. James Church in Falls Church with Bishop Michael F. Burbidge to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Dec. 12. Father José E. Hoyos, diocesan director of the Spanish Apostolate, gave the homily in a mixture of Spanish and English. “What a cold night, but our hearts are on fire because we have the fiesta of the Virgin of Guadalupe,” he said. 

Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of Mexico, queen of the Americas and defender of the unborn, said Father Hoyos. 

“This is a special day for us, the immigrant community, to defend life. Our prayers are for the unborn. That’s what we’ve been doing in the Hispanic community always because we know how life is precious in God’s eyes,” he said. 

“The Virgin of Guadalupe is the example of Mary full of grace. She is the faithful disciple. She is the believing and prayerful woman who knows how to accompany and encourage our faith and our hope,” he said.

Mass attendee Daniela Talamante grew up in Mexico, the country where Mary appeared to St. Juan Diego in 1531. There, the people celebrate the feast with Mass, a rosary procession and Marian hymns on all nine days leading up to Dec. 12. “In Mexico, birthdays are celebrated before the sun rises on the day of your birthday,” she explained. So in many places, including the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City, people wake up before dawn and sing to Mary the birthday song, “Little Mornings.” 

“I really like to come to these Masses. All today I’ve been posting on Facebook mariachi songs for Our Lady,” said Talamante. 

At the end of the Mass at St. James, men carried a statue of Our Lady down the aisle, all the while stomping and shaking maracas. Many were dressed in gold and wore feathered headdresses, traditional clothing from the region of Tepeyac where the Virgin appeared. A mariachi band accompanied them. At the altar, Bishop Burbidge blessed the statue, and a man dressed as St. Juan Diego presented him with roses. 

Everyone processed from the church to Heller Hall to watch dancing, listen to music and eat. Bishop Burbidge took a moment to bless the children, many of whom were dressed as St. Juan Diego or in Mexican dresses. The hall was lined with flags from South and Central American countries. At the far end, the statue of Mary sat under a canopy of fabric and colored lights, with more statues of Mary, pictures of Jesus, rosaries, candles and flowers beneath. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017