Cardinal Dolan, celebrating the annual Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, told the faithful that the Church is “thankful for the gift of Our Lady of Guadalupe,” Mother of the Americas.
“Welcome everybody; thank you for your company on this beautiful feast of Our Lady of Gudalupe,” said the cardinal in Spanish and English remarks at the start of the morning liturgy for the Dec. 12 feast day.
“Thank you for your faith in Jesus, the Son of Mary, the Son of God—our Savior. The Antorcha of Guadalupe reminds us that Jesus is the Light of the World; as revealed to Juan Diego, and as revealed in our hearts and at Christmas.”
The cardinal then turned and expressed his gratitude to his concelebrants, including Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, Vatican nuncio to the United Nations, and Auxiliary Bishop Edmund Whalen, who served as homilist. The cardinal also thanked several Latin American diplomats for their presence. The Mass, attended by about 300 people, was conducted mostly in Spanish.
“It is good that we are here today; it is significant for us,” said Bishop Whalen during his homily, delivered in Spanish, about the importance of honoring Mary under her Guadalupe title and her apparitions in Mexico to St. Juan Diego in 1531.
“It is important for us to realize that the Virgin Mary is at the center, at the center of the Americas—geographically and especially, during these difficult (pandemic) days for us, at the center of our life.”
The bishop went on to speak about the significance of Mary’s trust in the Lord, and how we should follow her example of faith and trust in Him. “The Lord calls us to live in faith; we must respond with faith like Mary. Yes, it is difficult, the pandemic, the economic difficulties, the social difficulties, the social divisions in our country and the world; sickness, fear about the future.”
Bishop Whalen noted the importance of remembering that “the Virgin Mary can help us, the Virgin Mary loves us,” and he spoke of Juan Diego’s trust in Mary and Mary’s trust in God. He talked about the significance of spiritual fortitude, as individuals and families, in seeking Mary’s intercession and remembering the Lord’s love.
He said these acts of faith should be remembered in our family life and our work, as well as our social interactions within communities. It is through trust in the Lord and the Virgin Mary, the bishop said, that we develop and maintain “strength of faith and hope in the future.”
After the homily, Cardinal Dolan thanked Bishop Whalen and said, “Que viva la Virgen de Guadalupe.”
Marcelina Verdejo, 48, a parishioner of Immaculate Conception in the Bronx, was among the faithful in the pews. “I give thanks to God for this special day, for giving us the opportunity to be here, celebrating and honoring the Virgin Mary,” the Mexican-born married mother of three told Catholic New York before the Mass. “It is important not to lose faith, and to pray for people sick with the virus, and those who have died.”
Jorge Islas Lopez, consul general of Mexico in New York, addressed the congregation toward the end of Mass, expressing his gratitude to the faithful, the cardinal, the bishop, the nuncio and all the concelebrants. “We are grateful to the cardinal and the cathedral for once again opening the doors so that we can celebrate this tradition,” Islas said. “This is very important in our culture and for our faith. It is a very important day for us.”
Words of gratitude were also expressed at the end of Mass by Father Lorenzo Ato, director of communications for archdiocesan Hispanic Ministry, and Hesy Landesbaum, the newly appointed president of the archdiocesan Our Lady of Guadalupe Committee. “Thank you very much; this is an honor,” said Ms. Landesbaum, citing the importance of peace, love and community.
The archdiocesan Guadalupe plans at the cathedral were scaled back this year due to the pandemic, with no large congregation (typically about 2,000 people), no large procession from West 14th Street to St. Patrick’s in Midtown before the Mass and no large Mariachi choir. The liturgical music was provided by a man singing and playing his guitar, Mariachi style.