Auxiliary Bishop Alfonso Miranda Guardiola, of the Archdiocese of Monterrey, Mexico, found the spirit of Our Lady of Guadalupe very much alive and well in New York during a Mass on her feast day, Dec. 12.
Bishop Guardiola, in his homily at the morning Mass, said, “I am very content to be here with you,” acknowledging the spiritual and historical significance of the moment, the day and the place—St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
“We are conscious of the situation of immigrants who live in this land,” the bishop said, alluding to the possibility of stricter U.S. immigration policies that may result in the deportation of millions of undocumented immigrants.
He stressed the importance of praying to the Lord, and to the Blessed Mother for her intercession—placing trust and faith in them, as St. Juan Diego had when Our Lady of Guadalupe appeared to him outside Mexico City in 1531.
Bishop Guardiola acknowledged the dedicated support that immigrants receive from U.S. bishops and parish clergy. (This year, the U.S. bishops urged that the Dec. 12 feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, be observed as a day of prayer with a focus on migrants and refugees.)
The bishop also spoke about striving to maintain unity—within families and society—so that divisions and barriers between people will recede with God’s assistance. He finished the homily declaring, “Que viva La Virgen de Guadalupe.”
Cardinal Dolan was the principal celebrant of the annual Spanish-language Mass, attended by more than 1,500 people.
The cardinal offered words of gratitude to Bishop Guardiola at the beginning and end of the Mass.
“We love Jesus; we love Mary; we love the Catholic Church,” Cardinal Dolan said in Spanish.
He told the congregants that he was grateful for their patience with his limited Spanish-speaking abilities, and that he is seeking to improve in that regard.
The Mass was preceded by a two-hour Guadalupe procession, which began on West 14th Street and had about 1,000 participants—some of whom later danced outside the cathedral, clad in colorful costumes. The procession was coupled with a special torch run that signifies the Light of faith.
After Mass, Cardinal Dolan blessed about three dozen children, including youngsters clad in ceremonial costumes.
Rosamaria Gonzalez, 30, a parishioner of St. Anthony of Padua in the Bronx, was one of the procession participants.
“I have participated in this event for about 10 years. In my family, our faith is a big part of our life,” Ms. Gonzalez said in a brief interview before Mass.
“As Mexicans, the Virgin of Guadalupe is with us from birth.”
Kevin Pelez, 27, a native New Yorker of Mexican descent who is a parishioner of St. Patrick’s, also attended the morning liturgy. “All my life I was brought up with Catholic traditions; the Virgin Mary is very important for us,” Pelez told CNY afterward.
“She means a lot to me. My faith in her is strong. I had to make it here today…(The homily) was important to keep up our spirits, just to spread some love.”
The Mass and other archdiocesan gatherings honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe, including a Mass for families celebrated by Bishop Guardiola in the cathedral that evening, were organized by the archdiocesan Hispanic Ministry Office. Many parish celebrations, featuring the archdiocesan statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe, took place in churches across the archdiocese in the past three months.
A number of students from La Salle Academy, a boys’ Catholic high school in Lower Manhattan, also attended the youth Mass, clad in red sweaters. “It was really nice—it was beautiful,” said sophomore Gabriel De Silva, 15, of the Mass.
Father Santiago Rubio, pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Bernard parish on West 14th Street, was one of the concelebrants. Father Rubio is spiritual director of the archdiocesan Our Lady of Guadalupe Committee.
The procession to the cathedral began at the parish’s Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
“It was appropriate given the circumstances we live in,” Father Rubio, a native of Mexico, said of the message in Bishop Guardiola’s homily regarding possible dire changes in U.S. immigration policies.
“He (the bishop) was to the point…We are experiencing some anxiety, some uncertainty. He was encouraging us to pray, to be confident in God, with help from Our Lady of Guadalupe.”