At a Mass honoring Our Lady of El Rocío, the celebrant spoke about the significance of “praying for our children, for our families and for our communities.”
Father Lorenzo Ato celebrated the May 29 Spanish liturgy at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Our Lady of El Rocío, whose shrine and sanctuary in Ecuador attracts thousands of pilgrims each year, is a Marian devotion with origins dating to 17th-century Spain and which, through the years, was adopted by the people of Ecuador. The shrine is built into the rocks above the village of Biblián.
Father Ato is communications director of the archdiocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry and pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus parish in Manhattan. The afternoon Mass drew several hundred people on World Communications Day.
“We are united here today, finalizing this month of May, this month of Mother’s Day and of the Virgin Mary by honoring Our Lady of El Rocío,” said Father Ato in his opening remarks, citing the presence of many Ecuadoreans in attendance.
Father Ato, in his homily, told the faithful that all who gathered were united under the maternal care of Our Lady of El Rocío, who was helping them to celebrate their faith “here in the Archdiocese of New York.”
He also spoke about the significance and the beauty of the Shrine of Our Lady of El Rocío in Ecuador. “And we pray for the intercession of Our Lady of El Rocío, on this day a week before Pentecost Sunday, we pray that our families (continue living) in the love and the spirit of the Lord.”
The Mass was celebrated on the seventh Sunday of Easter, with Father Ato adding, “We are reaching the end of this time of Easter, which goes from the Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord until the Solemnity of Pentecost…The resurrection signifies triumph over death. In today’s Gospel reading (John 17:20-26), we see the profound love that the Lord has for you and for me.
“He wants us to be united through Mary, through prayer, and through sharing our existence with Him.”
He encouraged the faithful to remember that true love and happiness is obtained when families place the Lord at the center of their lives. The priest ended his homily in part by praying for Mary’s intercession in ending “the hatred and the violence” in U.S. society today.
Concelebrants included Father Brian McWeeney, director of archdiocesan Ethnic Apostolate, and Father William Arteaga, of Loja, Ecuador. Deacon Carlos Campoverde of Assumption parish, Peekskill, served at the Mass.
The Mass was sponsored by the archdiocesan Office of Hispanic Ministry, and the liturgical choir was Coro Ministerio San Nicolás, Queens. Bishop Oswaldo Vintimilla of the Diocese of Azogues Cañar, Ecuador, who was originally to celebrate the Mass, was not able to be present.
“This is a very important Mass for which many people are thankful,” Deacon Campoverde, born and raised in Ecuador, told Catholic New York.
“Many immigrants from Ecuador visit the shrine there to pray to Our Lady of El Rocío before they leave to come to the United States,” said the deacon, who added that they pray for safety in their journeys and blessings in their future.
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