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Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrated in Woodbridge

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Northern Virginia Hispanic Catholics usually mark the Dec. 12 feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe with parish festivities that include mariachi music, traditional dances and lots of Mexican food. But this year the coronavirus pandemic muted many celebrations for the patroness of the Americas. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge celebrated a vigil Mass for a small crowd at Our Lady of Angels Church in Woodbridge Dec. 11. 

In his homily, Disciples of the Hearts of Jesus and Mary Father Alvaro Montero, pastor of Our Lady of Angels, spoke about the famous Marian apparition. In 1531, the Virgin Mary appeared to an Aztec man called Juan Diego and asked him to build a church on Tepeyac Hill. When the bishop asked Juan Diego to show proof of the request, Our Lady told Juan Diego to gather roses, which he found growing out of season. When Juan Diego opened his tilma to show the bishop the flowers, an image, now known as Our Lady of Guadalupe, was imprinted on his clothes.

Father Montero said in Spanish that the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe speaks to the importance of receiving God and trusting his plans. He said the world needs modern-day St. Juan Diegos to spread the love of God. He asked for people to respond to the call to the priesthood and religious life. To the delight of the priests in the sanctuary, one altar boy raised his hand. 

At the end of the Mass, Bishop Burbidge blessed the large painting of Our Lady of Guadalupe adorned with fresh flowers. He then greeted Massgoers, including one baby dressed as St. Juan Diego. Astrid Melendez, a parishioner of Our Lady of Angels, came dressed in a flower crown, a blouse from El Salvador and a skirt from Mexico. Though Melendez is originally from El Salvador, “Our Lady of Guadalupe is the mom for all Central America,” she said. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020