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Parishes across diocese celebrate feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe

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Churches across the Arlington diocese celebrated the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe Dec. 11 and 12 with Masses, processions, historical plays and parish festivals.

Joel de Loera, director of the diocesan Office of the Spanish Apostolate, relates the story of the appearance of Mary in Mexico in 1531:

“It was a cold December Saturday morning when an Indian named Juan Diego encountered Our Blessed Mother as he passed Tepeyac Hill, while en route to holy Mass in honor of the Immaculate Conception.

Juan Diego heard beautiful music coming from songbirds followed by a sweet voice calling him by name in his native tongue of Náhuatl: ‘Juanito, my dear Juan Diego.’ After identifying herself as the Mother of God, she instructed Juan Diego to go see the bishop of Mexico, a Franciscan, Juan de Zumárraga, and ask him to build a shrine in her honor on that hill. At first, the bishop dismissed him. But then he asked Juan Diego for a sign. Juan Diego would be the first one to receive a sign, as his uncle was healed from a serious illness.

On Dec. 12, Our Lady granted the bishop the sign he requested. She instructed Juan Diego to pick some flowers and tuck them in his tilma, or cloak. When he went to see Bishop Zumárraga, he untucked his tilma, and to the surprise of all, Our Lady’s image was imprinted on it. Today, that same original tilma with Our Lady of Guadalupe’s image is on display in the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.”

St. Anthony of Padua Church in Falls Church was among parishes that planned extensive events, including a historical re-enactment of the story of Juan Diego and a festival with mariachi music Dec. 11.

Bishop Michael F. Burbidge joined a festive procession in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe and celebrated a Mass Dec. 12 at the Cathedral of St. Thomas More in Arlington.

Father Eliberto de Jesus Garcia Pareja, parochial vicar at the cathedral, said in his homily that the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, is a day to rejoice.

“On this day, we have two reasons to be happy: the Lord is coming. We wait for him with faith, and Mary accompanies us in our waiting,” he said. Special music was provided by young adult musicians: singer Karla Miranda, Jenny Perez on piano and Marvin Molina on guitar, all parishioners at St. Anthony.

Bishop Burbidge expressed his gratitude to the Hispanic community for organizing the beautiful procession, Mass and a reception, and reminded the faithful of St. Paul’s words: “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say ‘rejoice.’ ”  

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2021