In celebrating the annual Our Lady of Guadalupe Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Bishop Ramón Castro Castro of the Diocese of Cuernavaca, Mexico, said the Blessed Mother provides “seeds of hope” amid today’s global struggles and uncertainties.
Cardinal Dolan gave welcoming remarks at the feast-day Mass Dec.12, thanking Bishop Castro and expressing special gratitude for a large portrait of Our Lady of Guadalupe and one of St. Juan Diego, both given to the Archdiocese of New York by the Episcopal Conference of Mexico. The replica portraits were on display at the sanctuary steps during the Mass; the originals are at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico City.
Bishop Castro, secretary to the bishops’ conference in Mexico, said in his homily that on the Third Sunday of Advent, “we are here also to celebrate our Holy Mother of Guadalupe.” He noted the importance of honoring Mary under her Guadalupe title while promoting fraternity between the Archdiocese of New York and the bishops’ conference of Mexico.
“We give thanks to God for all the good that He does for us; we give thanks to God for the gift of the miracle at Tepeyac,” the bishop added, noting that “in this materialistic and individualistic universe, with this pandemic that has brought all of humanity to its knees,” the Virgin of Guadalupe gives us “the seeds of hope that she sowed so many years ago.”
Bishop Castro also spoke about trusting in Mary, as Juan Diego did.
“She is our Mother, who worries about us, who wants to accompany us. We are here to celebrate Our Mother who makes us feel united…That is why we should not be afraid. God is with us. Our Mother is with us. To have fear, to doubt, to accommodate oneself with the present without God, and to have nothing to hope for, these are attitudes that have nothing to do with our Catholic faith.”
The bishop encouraged the faithful “to be instruments of peace and fraternity. As Pope Francis has told us, we should live in synodality; let us walk together.”
About 2,000 people attended the afternoon Mass, 200 of whom participated in a street procession before Mass that traveled from West 14th Street up Eighth Avenue.
Concelebrants included Auxiliary Bishop Edmund Whalen; Father Enrique Salvo, rector of the cathedral; Father Lorenzo Ato, director of communications for archdiocesan Hispanic Ministry; Father Brian McWeeney, director of archdiocesan Ethnic Apostolate; and Father Jesús Ledezma Castro, pastor of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Bernard on West 14th Street.
Words of gratitude were expressed by Hesy Landesbaum, president of the archdiocesan Our Lady of Guadalupe Committee, and Jorge Islas López, consul general of Mexico in New York. The Ave Maria was performed by Kimberly Fergie and the Mariachi de Alvaro Paulino. There was a dance performance by Ballet Folklorico Mexicano de Nueva York.
Among the faithful present were Ana Rendón, 37, and her husband, Anastacio Genis, 35. The parents of two are parishioners of St. Bernard parish in White Plains.
They said they were grateful for the special Mass and for the inspiring words of Bishop Castro. “It touched our hearts; it was very beautiful,” said an emotional Ms. Rendón, who added that their faith in Almighty God and Mother Mary helped them cope last year when she had serious health problems.
She underwent a kidney transplant on Dec. 12, and her husband was the donor.
St. Juan Diego was canonized on July 31, 2002, at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mexico City, by Pope John Paul II, now St. John Paul II. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops notes that under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Virgin Mary “is the patron of Mexico, the United States, and all of the Americas, as well as the protector of unborn children. In 1531, she appeared in a vision to the peasant Juan Diego on Tepeyac Hill near Mexico City and charged him with asking the bishop to build a church on that spot. But the bishop demanded a sign, so Our Lady had Juan gather flowers in his cloak in December to take to the bishop. When Juan opened his cloak, the colorful image of Guadalupe was emblazoned on the cactus cloth. That icon is preserved in the most famous shrine in the Western Hemisphere and Our Lady of Guadalupe continues to inspire poor and oppressed people worldwide.”
The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., notes that St. Juan Diego “was one of the first indigenous people in the New World to embrace Catholicism. As Pope John Paul II said at Juan Diego’s canonization, ‘In accepting the Christian message without forgoing his indigenous identity, Juan Diego discovered the profound truth of the new humanity, in which all are called to be children of God. Thus he facilitated the fruitful meeting of two worlds and became the catalyst for the new Mexican identity, closely united to Our Lady of Guadalupe…’”