La Sagrada Familia Parish in Cleveland concluded its annual celebration of the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe at noon Mass on Dec. 15 with Bishop Nelson Perez as the celebrant. The liturgy was celebrated in Spanish.
Father Rob Reidy, pastor, said the parish celebrates for five days with prayers and a reenactment of the apparition of the Blessed Mother to Juan Diego on Dec. 12, 1531 in Mexico. The feast is a major celebration in Mexico and Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patroness of the Americas.
The Blessed Mother appeared three times as an indigenous woman to Juan Diego -- who also was indigenous -- and asked him to be her special messenger. She provided him with two forms of proof of the apparitions for the skeptical bishop: a cloak full of fresh roses in December and a miraculous image of the Blessed Mother on his tilma or shawl.
At Sagrada Familia, a parish organization coordinates the Guadalupe celebration. Each year people are chosen to portray the Blessed Mother and Juan Diego for the reenactment of the apparitions. This year’s reenactment took place on Dec. 13.
Father Reidy said the parish has its closing celebration on Sunday to allow more people to attend. Every inch of the church was packed for the Mass, with many more people overflowing into the gathering area and the parish hall.
“This was one of our bigger celebrations,” he said. Attendance was estimated at more than 600. Several young boys were dressed in white outfits like Juan Diego, some with painted moustaches, and some of the girls dressed in colorful embroidered blouses with bright, striped skirts.
Grupo de Danza Guadalupe of Norwalk performed in Aztec-type dress with large feathered headdresses and beaded costumes. The troupe danced into the church after the opening procession and performed a sacred dance before Mass began.
Mariachis led the liturgical music and singing with traditional instruments.
Bishop Perez briefly recapped his just-concluded ad limina visit to Rome where he and the other Ohio and Michigan bishops met with the Holy Father to discuss issues of importance in their dioceses and the Church.
The bishop also offered some advice to young people in the congregation, telling them: “Do not let anyone rob you of your faith, culture, heritage and language. It is God’s greatest gift. Treasure it.”
After Mass, Grupo de Danza Guadalupana performed again in the hall while attendees enjoyed fellowship and Mexican food.